With big goals to be part of the solution for a brighter environmental future in B.C., Brian Bjorkland enrolled in Okanagan College’s Water Engineering Technology program and is now among 427 students receiving their credentials at the College’s first convocation ceremony of 2018.
Saturday’s graduation ceremony sees Bjorkland receive a diploma in front of family and friends, but it won’t be the first time he has crossed the stage. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in environmental biology in 2013 from Thompson Rivers University, Bjorkland knew he would have more career options if he specialized in his field.
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“I knew I had to get another credential on top of my degree to give myself the best chance of standing out from the masses and getting a good job,” he said. “I chose to enroll in the Water Engineering Tech program because of the program’s history and reputation and most importantly because it had a co-op component.”
Bjorkland was hired in his first year as a co-op student at the City of Surrey and was responsible for monitoring, completing maintenance and responding to alarms for the various pumping stations throughout the city. He was the first OC student to work for the City of Surrey and was invited back to complete his second co-op term with the same employer.
“The experience and skills I got with the City of Surrey was invaluable – it was really a unique job and actually helped me choose the environmental monitoring focus in my second year,” said Bjorkland. “I was obviously expecting to enjoy that focus area because I chose it, but I wasn’t expecting to uncover a new passion for the biology of insects and plants in fresh water.”
The two-and-a-half-year program offers two streams of specialization for second-year students, water and wastewater technology and environmental monitoring – both of which see students spend more time wading in a creek than in a classroom chair, according to the college.
“I loved that the classes in this program were so interesting and interactive,” said Bjorkland. “The instructors were great, it was an awesome learning environment and my fellow students were all really good people and I’ve made some friendships for life.”
Winter convocation is the first of the College’s seven ceremonies that take place this year. Students from all four campuses will cross the stage at the Kelowna campus to receive their credentials. The college will confer 79 Bachelor’s degrees, 11 associate degrees, 231 diplomas and 106 certificates.
The morning ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. and the afternoon ceremony at noon. Both ceremonies will stream live on the college’s Facebook page.