Entrance scholarships provided by two Okanagan College donors have inspired a group of graduating Grade 12 students to think about how they can translate education into community impact.
Shad Collins, Matt Finlayson, Jack Holman, Courtney Korabek, Breanne Pitts, and Jaxon Stel each received the $2,500 Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Entrance Scholarship to support their studies at the college.
During presentations at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus and Mount Boucherie Secondary School, the Thorpes congratulated the students and asked them about their career goals—a question which immediately generated a flurry of ideas about how each hopes to make a difference in the community.
“First and foremost, this award has helped bring my goal of becoming a Red Seal chef within reach,” said Pitts, who hopes to parlay her training in the Culinary Arts program into a career as a gluten-free chef. “I am incredibly grateful for that.”
Pitts’ mother and brother have Celiac disease, which inspired her to follow in the footsteps of chefs who have elevated gluten-free cooking in recent years. She hopes one day to also teach cooking classes and pass on her skills to future chefs-in-training.
“The opportunity to be a culinary teacher in the future is really appealing to me,” explained Pitts. “Once I get to the point where I feel I am experienced enough, it would be a way of passing on what I have learned to others—which is a great way of giving back.”
Established in 2007, the Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Awards encompass a variety of scholarships and bursaries, including entrance awards for trades and technical students, as well as bursaries for mature students spanning all programs and faculties at Okanagan College.
“We are proud and delighted to be able to assist students with their post-secondary educations,” said Yasmin Thorpe.
“These students have very bright futures ahead of them,” added Rick Thorpe. “We look forward to staying in touch with them and hearing about their accomplishments. And if in future they are inspired by the fact that someone supported their education, and they chose to do the same for others, what could be better?”
To date, the Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends fund has provided more than $70,000 in awards to students at Okanagan College. The Thorpes have also established numerous awards for students entering or enrolled at UBC Okanagan.
For Penticton resident Jack Holman, receiving an entrance award has not only inspired him to excel during his training as a plumber and pipefitter at the College, but also to continue his volunteer work. An avid soccer player, Holman currently volunteers as a fundraiser for local youth soccer clubs.
“Community involvement isn’t something that has to wait until I graduate college,” said Holman. “I want to give back as much as I can now, volunteering my time whenever I can.”
“Rick and Yasmin Thorpe’s support has had, and will continue to have, an immense impact on many students at the College,” added Kathy Butler, executive director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “Their generosity, and the generosity of so many donors in the region, directly reinforces the College’s mission to transform lives and communities.”
In the past year, Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation have collectively disbursed more than $1 million in awards to 886 students at the Kelowna, Penticton, Salmon Arm and Vernon campuses.