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Grad Profiles

Insurance brokered: Project Management grad recognized for engagement, leadership

September 6, 2019

Changing careers can be daunting and difficult, but Matt Betker definitely made the right decision.

A long-time software developer, Betker saw his consultant position at Manitoba Public Insurance slowly turning into a leadership role. He decided to go with the flow and in 2018 he graduated from Red River College’s Project Management certificate program.

A few months later, Betker earned Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute.

Now, he’s working as a project manager at MPI and is currently enrolled in RRC’s Project Leadership program.

“I switched from a consultant to an employee and changed job roles and careers at the same time. It worked out well for me,” says Betker, 39.

Did it ever. In April, Betker was named the winner of the top student award at PMI Manitoba’s annual spring conference. The honour comes with a $1,000 cash prize courtesy of PMI Manitoba and RRC. Read More →

Therapeutic Recreation grad connects with older adults in bilingual role at Actionmarguerite

April 30, 2019

Jean-Pierre Kisima, ActionmargueriteBased on the way Jean-Pierre Kisama talks about his job, you can tell it’s his calling.

A recent Red River College graduate, Kisama takes great pride in his work at Actionmarguerite, a home for francophone seniors who require personal and long-term care services.

He’s a therapeutic recreation specialist, so it’s part of his role to engage the residents, and encourage them to take part in the therapeutic programming he creates and plans.

“Some of the residents have dementia, physical disabilities or can’t hear or see very well — they need love and someone beside them who will treat them with dignity and make them feel like they can still do things,” says Kisama.

“My floor has 40 residents, and they all know my name. They are happy, and because of that I am very happy.”

Kisama has always enjoyed working with seniors, which is one of the reasons he decided to enroll in Red River College’s Thereapeutic Recreation Facilitator for Older Adults program.

He and his family came to Winnipeg from the Congo as refugees in 2013. Back home, he served in a similar role as a community support worker.

“The teaching methods were wonderful, and the College itself is well organized,” he says of his experience at RRC. “They made things simple, in the sense that if you are serious about what you want to do, and you work hard, you will succeed in the program.”

Another reason Kisama wanted to take the program was because of the flexible schedule afforded by the continuing education option.

“It worked around my timetable with my four kids and with my wife, so my family wasn’t even affected,” he says. “It made it easier for me to finish and to study hard.” Read More →

Ready for anything: Admin. Assistant training leads to career path in human resources

January 30, 2019

Red River College delivers job-ready graduates to employers, and Ronda Henley was as job-ready as it gets.

In 1987, while still enrolled in RRC’s Administrative Assistant program, Henley was offered a job with the Health Sciences Centre.

“It was in the department of communication disorders, working with speech pathologists and audiologists,” says Henley, who had previously completed RRC’s Secretarial Machine Transcription course in 1986.

“After completing an interview and passing their medical vocabulary and typing tests, they offered me the job, but I thought to myself, ‘Wait, I still have to do my final exams. I haven’t finished school.’”

And while Henley did complete the Administrative Assistant program, she still wasn’t finished furthering her education at RRC.

In 1997, she returned to the College to take the Human Resource Management program, having at the time been recently hired by United Grain Growers in an administrative assistant position in HR.

That put Henley on her current career path: HR in the agricultural sector. She’s held HR positions at UGG, Agricore United, Viterra, and for the last 10 years, Cargill.

Presently, Henley is Cargill’s employee experience/employee relations senior specialist for Manitoba.

“The role covers everything from onsite training to employee engagement to performance management — different realms that support employees and managers,” she explains. Read More →

Youth Recreation Activity Worker grads are ready to give back

June 13, 2018

On May 24, 12 students have successfully completed the Youth Recreation Activity Worker (YRAW) program, and are ready to provide inner-city youth with healthy recreational activities and serve as positive role models.

Each year, Red River College (RRC) and Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg partner to train individuals — many of whom face socio-economic barriers themselves — to work with inner city youth as recreational leaders. The nine-month program is designed for individuals ages 18-29, who live in or around Winnipeg’s inner city, and face barriers to obtaining their post-secondary education.

Graduates of the program find jobs with Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg, other inner city youth agencies, or as childhood educators and teachers’ aides. Other grads continue their studies in RRC’s Youth and Child Care diploma program or go on to university.

This program has been changing participants’ lives for 16 years. Two grads from the 2018 class, Paul McLean and Sappfyre McLeod, share parts of their graduation speeches on what this program has meant for them. Read More →

Picture Perfect at the Skills Manitoba Competition

June 4, 2018

Joe Kerr (Instructor), Min Kim (silver medalist), Heather Beckstead (gold medalist) and Rodney Braun (Lead Instructor)

A picture is worth a thousand words. The story, emotions, creativity and energy that can be captured in a photograph proves this fact, and the observer can identify, appreciate and enjoy the captivating work-of-art. This passion is what fuels photographers to bring their photos to life in creative visions.

The 21st annual Skills Manitoba Competition was held on April 12 at Red River College (RRC’s) Notre Dame and Exchange District Campuses. Over 475 students, from high school, post-secondary and apprenticeship programs, competed in 42 different skilled trades and technology challenges in six industry sectors. Achieving a medal at this level is no easy feat!

Two of RRC’s Professional Photography students participated in this competition and came out on top! Taking home the gold and silver medals in photography were Heather Beckstead and Min Kim, respectively. Congratulations on an impressive accomplishment!

Their challenge in this competition was to take three images that depicted document usage, oral communication and a mystery object. Participants were armed with a campus map of the various trades and technology events taking place, and were given the autonomy to choose an area, such as bricklaying, cabinet making or automotive, where their first two images could be captured. Read More →

PMI award winner values a new way of seeing the world

April 25, 2018

James Ashdown, a professional engineer by trade, enrolled in Red River College’s Project Management program thinking he would enhance his skills on a professional level. What he found was an altogether new way of thinking.

“Now I see projects everywhere,” said Ashdown, when asked how best to describe what he learned through the program. “I think as professionals we tend to see ourselves as people who can get things done. But when you really break things down through a project management lens you start to see the inefficiencies that exist.”

As for what Ashdown liked most about the program, he didn’t hesitate in saying it was the knowledge of the instructors and the real-life examples they brought to the table.

“I learned so much just hearing about their experiences — their successes and their failures,” he said. “Education can so often turn into nothing but note taking and exams, but I really enjoyed coming to class and participating in discussions that challenged a lot of assumptions I never realized I even had.”

The passion and skill Ashdown has developed for the discipline of project management translated to great success in the program itself — and in Ashdown being named this year’s Project Management Institute 2018 Scholarship Winner.

As excited as Ashdown is to have achieved such a high standing in the program, he’s even more excited to be able to translate what he’s learned into greater productivity for his employer, New Flyer Industries.

Read More →

Plan of action: Project Management grad pens book to help small businesses achieve big goals

March 19, 2018

There’s an old saying: “When one door closes, another door opens.”

Case in point? Heather Klassen, a 2014 graduate of Red River College’s Project Management program, who in 2012 was working in addictions counselling when she unexpectedly lost her job.

Faced with the choice of pursuing more training in her chosen field or charting a new course, Klassen — then a University of Manitoba grad with a B.A. in criminology and psychology — enrolled at RRC and embarked on a career path she never knew existed.

“My interest was occupational health and safety, but the first course that I could take through the Red River program was project management fundamentals,” she says. “I had no idea what it was when I took that course, but once I started getting into it, it sounded like something really interesting that I wanted to keep pursuing.”

Project management is about “getting stuff done” and achieving identified goals in a methodical way, Klassen explains.

“It was a different way of thinking,” she says. “I had come from a crisis management/crisis worker role where everything just sort of happens, so there really was no planning. (Project management) was pro-active. It was definitely a gear shift in terms of how I looked at things and went about things, but I realized it’s just so practical.”

While commonplace in the big business world of manufacturing, construction and software development, project management is under-utilized by small businesses, Klassen quickly realized.

Read More →

Curl power: Project Management grad stages event to celebrate natural hairstyles

October 25, 2017

Shondell Babb

Shondell Babb dares to wear her natural hair, and now she’s encouraging others to embrace their curls, too.

Babb, of Thiah Management and Consulting, has partnered with Black Space Winnipeg to present the Naturally Gorgeous – Curly Hair Event at the Norwood Hotel this Sun., Oct. 29 at 3 p.m.

Babb says there is a lack of awareness amongst women with Afro-textured hair — as well as hair stylists and hair-product vendors — regarding how best to deal with the kinks in their hair.

“In mixed race, black and Afro-Canadian people with really curly hair, there’s a natural hair movement — away from chemicals or putting a weave in or wig on,” says Babb, who graduated from Red River College’s Project Management certificate program in 2010.

“Culturally, when we look at magazines or TV, a lot of times our hair isn’t represented and it’s also very politicized. I’m doing [the event] because a lot of women are natural, but if you grew up relaxing your hair and then you go natural you’re dealing with really kinky, curly hair, and you basically don’t know what you’re doing.

“You know the inside spring on a pen? That’s my curl. I used to relax my hair and then I let my hair grow out and I’m dealing with the inside coil of a pen, every single one of my hairs grows out like that. It’s like, ‘How do I manage this?’ Read More →

Inaugural Peterbilt training program scores 100% employment rate

September 8, 2017

2017 graduating class, Peterbilt Technician Institute

All six students enrolled in the first class of a specialized mechanics and technology course will walk out the doors of Red River College and into new careers as certified technicians for Peterbilt Motors Company.

The students are graduates of the new Peterbilt Technician Institute (PTI), launched in partnership with the College earlier this year. The Institute is a manufacturer-paid training initiative offered to graduates of RRC’s Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic program, and to those interested in advancing their skills to become certified Peterbilt technicians.

For Alexandra Pratt, the experience means getting her foot in the door of a great career.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to get started in a career with such a well-known and reputable company,” ays Pratt. “I learned so much through this program, and would recommend it to anyone looking to start a career with the Peterbilt family.”

The six students were the first to complete the comprehensive training program, earning ten key certifications to earn their designation as Peterbilt Master Technicians.

This new program allowed the students to gain experience in all aspects of the work done at a Peterbilt dealership. Peterbilt Motors Company supplied the curriculum, laptops for the students, three trucks, two engines and specialized tools to help ensure the students’ success in becoming confident in their skills and career-ready by the end of the 12-week session. Peterbilt also trained RRC instructors to deliver the program at the College.

“Red River College is built on supporting the backbone of not only Manitoba’s economy, but many important sectors all across the country and throughout North America,” says Arnold Boldt, RRC’s executive director, Academic. “This new partnership with Peterbilt was a perfect fit when it came to accessing our expertise and state-of-the-art facilities.” Read More →

Practicum leads to employment for Administrative Assistant graduate

August 21, 2017

Frida Sibal, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries

Frida Sibal is proof positive that it’s never too late to realize your dreams.

Eight years after arriving in Canada from the Philippines, and nearly 30 years after her last stint as a full-time student, Sibal enrolled in Red River College’s Administrative Assistant program.

“It was finally the change I was looking for in Canada, deciding to go back to school and choosing Red River College,” says the 49-year-old graduate. “There is room for success for people my age.”

Last December, Sibal completed a three-week practicum at Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries. Five months later, the Crown corporation called, wanting to know if Sibal was interested in filling a term position as a human resources administrator.

Sibal leaped at the opportunity.

“The experience they are giving me is amazing,” Sibal says. “I am doing work for the educational assistance program, keeping files organized electronically. It’s a lot of day-to-day data entry — the kind of work that requires keen attention to details, because it involves a lot of workflows and processes. You really have to have sharp eyes to make sure you are entering the right data.”

After just three months, Sibal is already involved in orientation sessions for new staff.

“I love that,” she says. “I get to meet the new employees and talk to them and guide them… I would not have been confident doing that if not for the presentation classes I took (at Red River College).” Read More →