Lights, camera, action: A second chance at convocation

June 22, 2022

Today, after two years of virtual graduation ceremonies, RRC Polytech alumni — along with their classmates, friends, family, loved ones and College staff — are gathering for a second chance at convocation.

Almost 1,000 alumni will don a cap and gown to cross the stage in person during ceremonies at the Centennial Concert Hall.

“We recognize that being surrounded by classmates and loved ones, and crossing the stage is a major milestone to help celebrate students’ hard work and achievements,” says Dr. Christine Watson, Vice-President, Academic and emcee of the alumni graduation ceremonies.

“We wanted to be able to provide this memorable in-person experience to alumni who had virtual convocation ceremonies over the last two years,”

Earlier this spring, after receiving positive survey responses from alumni who graduated between Spring 2020 and Winter 2022, the College announced that special return convocation ceremonies would be held for alumni.

For Tian Tian, who first arrived in Canada in 2020, not only did she have to learn how to navigate a new country and way of life, but also remote classes in a new online learning environment. Despite all the challenges, Tian seamlessly managed a demanding class schedule, found time to give back to the community, and began building a family.

Having started her education journey at the onset of the pandemic, and finished during another wave of the pandemic, she now has the opportunity to attend the in-person convocation ceremony she had anticipated.

“I am grateful to be able to join my instructors and fellow classmates in person — they have been fundamental in helping me build brave relationships here at RRC Polytech and prepare for my future career,” says Tian, who is a 2021 honours grad of the College’s Manufacturing CAD program, and recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for outstanding achievement.

“Today is also extremely special because my son, Alexis, who became our youngest classmate, will be with my family in the audience while I cross the stage.”

Tian will bring remarks at tonight’s 7:00 p.m. ceremony, which — like those taking place at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. — will be available to livestream at

Congratulations to the classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022!

Careers in business: RRC Polytech program prepares grads to get hired by businesses, or start their own

June 16, 2022

Whether you’re selling a product, taking a product to market, working with people or looking to entice investors, a background in business provides a wide range of career paths to be followed.

This idea is at the core of RRC Polytech’s Business Administration program, a two-year diploma that allows students to follow an area of expertise — often directly into the workplace.

Business Administration graduate Paul Dorey, CPA, CGA used both his technical skills and the networks he established during his time at school to find what he calls his “forever home” at Talbot & Associates Chartered Professional Accountants, a Winnipeg-based accounting firm.

“One of my former RRC Polytech student colleagues reached out a few years ago and said, ‘Hey… why don’t you leave corporate accounting and come work for us at our public practice firm?’” recalls Dorey (shown above). “I decided to take a leap of faith and join him. It’s been six years since, and I’ll never look back.”

That kind of grad-to-grad connection is commonplace in Business Administration, where students spend the first term learning foundational skills before branching off into their choice of major: accounting, financial services, human resource management, marketing, and logistics and supply chain management.

Read More →

Careers in accounting: Certificate program opens doors to roles in a variety of businesses

May 18, 2022

Behind any for-profit business is a bottom line, and behind any bottom line is an accountant.

The skills required to exercise precision while dealing with finances are in high demand — something that RRC Polytech instructor Lise Nicole Wall understands well.

“It serves anyone well to have accounting knowledge, because every business has to have revenue and expenses, budgets and what-not,” says Wall.

RRC Polytech’s Applied Accounting certificate helps meet this demand through an eight-month program, consisting of two four-month terms, that provides a path for students into entry-level positions, both locally in Manitoba and across Canada. The program highlights “foundational accounting skills,” according to Wall, while emphasizing general business practices, mathematics, communication, computer skills and business software.

The work involved is demanding, but the program’s short timeframe means students can go from being good with numbers to starting their career in just eight months. This includes getting workplace-ready by honing skills like working in a group, respecting colleagues, managing time and communicating well.

“You’ve got your foot in the door,” says Wall of the opportunities provided.

“If you do well, the business doesn’t want to hire externally, they want to promote from within. So quite often, it’s just about getting into that corporation, that company, getting an entry-level position, and proving yourself before moving up.”

“[It’s] pretty great that after eight months you have a skillset and are desirable and ready to be hired, versus a degree, where you might not know where you’re being hired.”

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RRC Polytech hosts in-person Pow Wow for graduating Indigenous students

May 9, 2022

Last Friday, RRC Polytech welcomed back its in-person Pow Wow to celebrate graduating Indigenous students, with a day-long event that included a traditional pipe ceremony, drumming, dancing, singing, feasting and an Indigenous makers market.

Approximately 170 Indigenous students registered for the event, the largest number in RRC Polytech’s Pow Wow history. The event was also live streamed.

For the past two years, the College’s Pow Wow has been held virtually, with students signing up to be recognized in a live stream filled with Indigenous performances and messages of congratulations. Including the two virtual celebrations, this year’s event marked the College’s 22nd Pow Wow.

“Nothing can replace celebrating our students in-person and creating these memories that help mark a special moment in their lives and where their cultures are celebrated,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO of RRC Polytech. “Indigenous success is vital to all areas of our College and is just one of the ways we will contribute to the ongoing process of reconciliation. We’re seeing Indigenous students register for this year’s Pow Wow from across all programs areas: health, business, trades, and many in between.”

“This past fall, we launched our new strategic plan: In Front of What’s Ahead. Of the plan’s three commitments, the second is to commit to Truth and Reconciliation and pursue equity, diversity and inclusion in everything we do. Our work will begin with listening.

“Just this year, we have welcomed a Knowledge Keepers Council to help advise on our strategic initiatives, and we’ve welcomed Jamie Wilson as our Vice-President of Indigenous Strategy, Research and Business Development, which will increase our capacity for partnerships with Indigenous students, businesses and communities, and help further embed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action and training.” Read More →

RRC Polytech team finishes first in Sprint to Innovate challenge

May 5, 2022

RRC Polytech proudly owned the podium at the Sprint to Innovate Challenge last month, as teams representing the College won three of four available cash prizes.

Six Business Technology Management students teamed up as the North Latin Friends and outraced their peers to the finish line in the biannual 48-hour student innovation challenge, presented by the City of Winnipeg and held in cooperation with industry partners, the University of Manitoba and Tech Manitoba.

“Sprint to Innovate is a fun event that cultivates relationships between students and allows them to display technical and creative skills to potential employers,” says Dr. Jonathan Ziprick, Applied Computer Education instructor at RRC Polytech. “It’s a great opportunity for students to learn and practice the innovation process that is used for solving problems in industry.”

In Sprint to Innovate, industry partners provide real businesses challenges for student teams, who must choose an issue to tackle, work with a mentor to develop innovative business solutions over the course of a weekend, and then pitch their ideas to overcome the challenge to a panel of judges.

The competition requires teamwork, creativity and communication, and encourages participants to push the boundaries of conventional wisdom.

“The breadth of ideas, pragmatic approaches and workable solutions that students come up with in such a short period of time is impressive,” says Tyler Gooch, Director of Innovation & Technology for the City of Winnipeg. “As judges, it was difficult to select a winner because all the groups presented well-reasoned conclusions. In the end, we decided to reward a team that attacked their problem from a unique angle, forgoing obvious technology-based solutions to focus on a social innovation.”

With members hailing from Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Cuba and Ecuador, a cultural connection brought the North Latin Friends together as a team, and their shared experiences as new citizens inspired their response to the challenge — put forth by the City of Winnipeg — of how to encourage engagement and increase voter participation for the 2022 municipal election. Read More →

First time still prime

March 23, 2022

Camila Quintanilla standing in a restaurant
Camila Quintanilla had never worked before her co-op placement. She won the CEM Co-op Student of the Year Award and was nominated for a CEWIL Canada Student of the Year award. She now works at Baked Expectations full-time.

Imagine moving to a new place, more than an eight-hour flight away from home. It’s your first time being away from family. You speak the language, but it’s not how you regularly communicate — this is a totally new culture. Now imagine going to school there to train for the first job you’ve ever had.

Camila Quintanilla doesn’t have to imagine — it’s exactly what she did. In March 2021, she moved from Peru to Winnipeg to start a co-operative work placement through RRC Polytech’s Hotel and Restaurant Management program in the Hospitality and Tourism Management diploma.

“I remember going through the immigrations office when I first got to Toronto, and I was so scared I was shaking,” says Quintanilla. “I was so scared of not being able to do anything when I got here.”

She didn’t have to worry. This year, Quintanilla was named the Co-operative Education Manitoba (CEM) Co-op Student of the Year for 2021. She was also one of 39 co-op students — from a pool of 80,000 across the country — nominated for the Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada Student of the Year Award. To top it all off, her co-op experience led to a full-time job at Baked Expectations. Not bad for her first work experience.

Read More →

Careers in communication: New skills, work ethics take grads in unexpected directions

March 14, 2022

Portrait of Doug Darling, CEO of Tripwire Media Group

It’s a common story: a graduate of RRC Polytech’s Creative Communications program enters the program expecting their path to go one way. Then something — an instructor, a course, a project — points them somewhere new.

“RRC Polytech basically shaped my life in every way,” says Doug Darling, Creative Communications grad, instructor, and CEO of local video production agency Tripwire Media Group, which has worked with companies like Scotiabank, Tabasco and TikTok.

“As a young adult with a failing music career, I had no idea what I wanted to do. After going into Creative Communications, I found my passion for what would become my creative outlet and career.

“It very much culminated in one project — I had to make a three-minute video montage and I wasn’t taking it too seriously. Through that project, though, I found my calling. I realized that video was the culmination of art, and that editing was my new musicianship.”

Examples like Darling’s are something James Turner, instructor of journalism, photography and photojournalism at RRC Polytech, sees quite a bit across all four of CreComm’s specialization areas.

“Something usually strikes students along the way that triggers their desire to want to pursue that,” says Turner. “I’ve heard of various media production assignments that students have found valuable. For journalism, it’s often Remembrance Day assignments where students understand the human impact of journalism and what it means to put a face to a story.”

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WOW! Hospitality’s Doug Stephen receives Honorary Diploma in Hospitality and Tourism Management

February 24, 2022

For more than 40 years, Doug Stephen, founder of WOW! Hospitality Concepts, has been an integral part of the Winnipeg dining and hospitality sector, bringing smiles and building memories for thousands of people each year.

He’s also provided countless opportunities for RRC Polytech students to gain hands-on industry training and experience, making him a particularly fitting recipient of the College’s honorary diploma in Hospitality and Tourism Management

“RRC Polytech is proud to recognize the many contributions Doug Stephen has made to the dining and hospitality sector, as well as the education of future culinary, hospitality and tourism leaders in our province,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO of RRC Polytech.

“There’s an ideal we aspire to as a polytechnic institution, which is to match in-class know-how with the highest quality of work-integrated learning available. That’s because we believe our students deserve the very best — just as Doug Stephen believes Winnipeggers deserve the very best in their dining and hospitality experiences.”

Born in Dauphin, Stephen showed early signs of entrepreneurial leanings. At age 14, he was managing a fleet of Winnipeg Free Press carriers in Clear Lake. A year later, a chance meeting with the owner of Clear Lake’s pizza parlor saw him learning to cook and quickly taking over management duties at the restaurant.

After high school, Stephen came to Winnipeg to pursue his science degree at university, intending to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a physician. While enrolled, he worked as a server at the Old Spaghetti Factory (OSF). After completing his studies, he took a break year and never really looked back, leaving Winnipeg to gain hospitality training and experience in Toronto, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Ottawa, before returning to take over OSF and Brandy’s in 1980.

“I am so honoured that RRC Polytech has decided that I have given back and that I have contributed to the community,” Stephen says.

“It took a lot of work and perhaps some mistakes along the way. I have been very, very lucky because I’ve done what I have loved my entire life. Along the way I’ve had some great mentors and wonderful opportunities.” Read More →

RRC Polytech launches $60M campaign: In Front of What’s Ahead

December 1, 2021

Red River College Polytechnic has officially launched the largest-ever campaign in the institution’s history.

To mark Giving Tuesday — a global generosity movement aimed at giving back to the community — RRC Polytech is calling on all Manitobans to support the institution’s commitment to providing students, partners and communities with programs, spaces and supports that put them ahead of the competition.

In Front of What’s Ahead is a $60-million comprehensive campaign that aligns with the College’s new five-year strategic plan and focuses on three priority areas of funding, informed through a broad stakeholder engagement process:

  • Enhance student life ($10 million)
    To position RRC Polytech as a first-choice institution for learners.
  • Transform our spaces ($40 million)
    To keep pace with the rate of change of our businesses and societies.
  • Amplifying our impact ($10 million)
    To attract instructors and researchers in tune with an ever-changing economy, and to better support our partners.

Meeting these priorities will better prepare RRC Polytech to embrace disruption to meet the needs of its students and community members — today and in the years ahead. With this support, RRC Polytech’s students will have access to learning spaces and state-of-the-art equipment that prepare them today for the workforce of tomorrow. They will have more opportunities to work with and learn from industry leaders and mentors. Students will have access to new pathways and programs that reduce barriers and allow learners to receive the appropriate supports needed to succeed.

“As Manitoba’s polytechnic, we have a responsibility to equip our students and partners with the skills, facilities, technology and pathways they need to get in front of a rapidly changing workforce,” says Fred Meier, RRC Polytech President and CEO.

“For more than 80 years, we have been anticipating the needs of industry and fulfilling the training gaps in communities across the province. As technology and the way we work continues to evolve, we’re asking all Manitobans to join us. Join us in creating opportunities for grads to contribute on day one, in creating access for entrepreneurs and businesses to bring their ideas to life, and in creating spaces for communities to flourish.” Read More →

RRC Polytech staff, student, and alumni artisans offer local holiday goods

December 1, 2021

In past years, Red River College Polytechnic’s Sustainability team and Alumni Engagement have hosted a daylong Winter Market featuring products made by staff, student, and alumni artisans to celebrate the holiday season and encourage buying local.

Since campuses are not yet fully open to the public, RRC Polytech has once again created an online directory of makers in place of an in-person market experience. 

“The College’s alumni community is a diverse network of creators, entrepreneurs, and innovators. Following a challenging holiday season last year, we want to do our part to elevate these local businesses and encourage our community to shop local,” says Katrina Sklepowich, RRC Polytech’s Alumni Engagement Officer.

“We’ll be highlighting a number of makers each day for “12 Days of Holiday Shopping” – we encourage you to follow the RRC Polytech and Sustainability accounts on Instagram, where we’ll be sharing makers you can support between December 1-16.”

When you buy local from small businesses and artisan makers, you’re not only supporting creative makers in our community, but also the local economy. RRC Polytech has a strong commitment to sustainability and this is one way we’re able to encourage conscious shopping while promoting our talented staff, student, and alumni makers.

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