Campus Life  

UBCO students travel abroad to explore digital mediums

A photo of the University of Exeter campus.

A photo of the University of Exeter campus.

A unique collaboration is providing a research exchange for UBC Okanagan digital humanities students currently visiting England's University of Exeter.

The four students, accompanied by supervising professors Dr. Karis Shearer and Myron Campbell, are to host their augmented reality artwork, Press Play, at Exeter's Streatham campus.

Press Play is a collaborative effort between the University of British Columbia, Concordia University in Montreal and Exeter University, explains Dr. Shearer. The pilot internship exchange program allows undergraduate students to pitch and pursue a self-directed project in research-creation, digital design and media production.

First-year Bachelor of Fine Arts students Ains Reid and Austyn Bourget-White and third-year Bachelor of Media Studies students Kai Hagen and Matthew Kenney will visit Exeter, where their highly anticipated Press Play augmented reality artwork will be displayed in the Digital Humanities Lab.

"With mentorship from faculty at partner universities, the initiative offers undergraduate students experiential learning opportunities in visual art and design, as well as podcast production," says Dr. Shearer.

After a three-year delay owing to COVID-19, the research exchange is finally being brought to fruition. With Exeter's digital projects Poetry of the Lancashire Cotton Famine and Famine and Dearth in India and Britain, 1550-1800, the UBCO students will bridge the histories of famine to contemporary audiences in rural and urban, creative and academic, industries and communities in India, Britain, and right here in Kelowna.

"Collaborating with our colleagues from Exeter has truly enriched our students’ experiences producing art," says Campbell, a Creative Studies professor. "Through this project, they learned new technologies and created modern interpretations and reflections on poems over a century in the past. Witnessing our students unleash their creative potential and bring forth innovative works inspired by these poems has been a very rewarding experience for all involved."

When they return and in partnership with the City of Kelowna, the UBCO students will display their work at the Rotary Centre for the Arts on Cawston Avenue starting June 9.

As part of the research exchange, two English literature students, Emily Chircop and Sofie Drew, and their supervisors from Exeter will travel to Kelowna in early June to spend time in UBCO's AMP Lab. The lab houses projects that engage in the humanities by adding value to cultural artifacts through interpretation and analysis.

The Exeter students will participate in cultural and research activities around the Okanagan during their stay. They will also attend the UBCO students' exhibition, hear from Syilx elders at the FEELed Lab's Water & Fire event, and visit the SoundBox Collection, which houses hundreds of digitized literary recordings by poets from the west coast and BC interior.

Following the Digital Humanities showcase opening on June 9 at Kelowna's Okanagan Regional Library, the Exeter students will host a public listening party to celebrate the launch of their SoundBox Signals Podcast episode. The episode features a 43-year-old archival recording of local Okanagan-based author Sharon Thesen reading from her first book Artemis Hates Romance.

The multifaceted nature of the Press Play project grants students the opportunities to network and collaborate with other academic, digital, and literary institutions, mentors, and peers while developing employable interdisciplinary skills attuned to their interests and emerging expertise, explains Dr. Shearer.

UBCO and Exeter students will showcase their craft and research through exhibitions open to the university community and the broader public. Although the projects have distinct focuses, both will actively bridge literary archives to digital mediums, local history to international audiences, and the past to the present. The projects will demonstrate the interconnectedness of contemporary conversations with those of the past.

"By engaging talented student artists and creative producers whose public-facing digital art and digital storytelling animates local archival materials, the Press Play initiative aims to connect wider international audiences with digitized cultural heritage projects," says Dr. Shearer.

Those projects include the SpokenWeb, Famine Tales from India and Britain, and Poetry of the Lancashire Cotton Famine.

From left, Simon Rennie, Karis Shearer, Charlotte Tupman, Austyn Bourget-White, Ains Reid, Matthew Kenney, Kai Hagen, Myron Campbell and Gary Stringer.

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Scholarship established at UBC Okanagan to honour late Kelowna business leader Dave McAnerney

A photo of Dave McAnerney

Dave McAnerney

As a Canadian business leader, Dave McAnerney was renowned for excellence and exceptional leadership. But for those closest to him, McAnerney's legacy lies in his deep interest and commitment to people--a principle exemplified in a new $50,000 scholarship established in his honour at UBC Okanagan.

"Dave was absolutely exceptional, someone who took the time to get to know you, showed an interest in you as a person and a human," says Ken Stober, President of the Stober Foundation. "Anyone in his orbit benefited from his kindness, strength and deep love of his family and community."

McAnerney died suddenly in October 2022. He was the CEO of Stober Group, a major construction and commercial development company based in Kelowna. He had deep ties to the Okanagan business community, serving as president and CEO of SunRype, and holding executive positions with Labatt's and Columbia Brewing.

In honour of his accomplishments and legacy within their family company, the Stober Foundation has established a memorial award in the Faculty of Management with a $50,000 gift. These funds, matched by the university, will create the Dave McAnerney Memorial Award in Management to support third- and fourth-year students that perform at a high academic level, are committed to giving back to their community, and demonstrate a financial need.

Sandy Hilton, Dean pro tem of the Faculty of Management, says the award is particularly meaningful given the impact of McAnerney's leadership in business.

“As a management Faculty, we aim to cultivate opportunities for our students to explore and redefine leadership," says Hilton. “This generous gift--through its transformative effect on students' university experience in management--will continue Mr. McAnerney's legacy as a compassionate leader and business innovator.”

Stober Foundation CEO Keith Brewster says that establishing this memorial award is a testament to McArnerney's impact on the community and his role as a friend and mentor.

"To say that Dave was a leader is an understatement. Setting up this award, with the support of his wonderful wife Anne and their children Michelle and Renee, is a blessing and, quite simply, the right thing to do. It warms our hearts to know that these awards will benefit a lifetime of young scholars. His legacy will remain, elevating excellence in community service, just like he did in life."

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A student's poor eating habits can lead to a lifetime of illness

A UBCO researcher cautions poor eating habits established while at university can lead to health challenges later in life.

A UBC Okanagan researcher is cautioning that a person's poor eating habits established during post-secondary studies can contribute to future health issues including obesity, respiratory illnesses and depression.

Dr. Joan Bottorff, a Professor with UBCO's School of Nursing, is one of several international researchers who published a multi-site study looking at the eating habits of university students. Almost 12,000 medical students from 31 universities in China participated in the study that aimed to determine the association between eating behaviours, obesity and various diseases.

The point, says Dr. Bottorff, is that many poor eating habits begin at university and can continue for decades.

"We know many students consume high-calorie meals along with sugary foods and drinks and there is lots of evidence to show those kinds of eating behaviours can lead to obesity," says Dr. Bottorff. "These are not the only habits that lead to obesity, but they are important and can't be ruled out."

The study, published recently in Preventive Medicine Reports, was led by Dr. Shihui Peng with the School of Medicine at China's Jinan University. While there is well-established research that links unhealthy diets to many chronic diseases, this study aimed to show a relationship between poor eating habits and infectious diseases including colds and diarrhea.

Dr. Bottorff notes, due to the nature of the study, it was not possible to show cause and effect but the relationship between poor eating habits, obesity and respiratory illnesses were well supported.

"There has been biomedical research that also supports this link between obesity and infectious diseases, and most recently this has been related to COVID-19," she adds. "We know from some of the recent publications related to COVID-19, obese people were more likely to have severe conditions and outcomes. Reasons that have been offered for this increased vulnerability include impaired breathing from the pressure of extra weight and poorer inflammatory and immune responses."

A typical student diet of high-sugar or high-calorie foods can become a long-term issue as these habits can lead to obesity. Dr. Bottorff says there is evidence to show that stress and anxiety can cause overeating, but overeating can also lead to stress and depression.

"The bottom line here is that we shouldn’t be ignoring this risk pattern among young people at university. It is well documented that a significant portion of students have unhealthy diets," she adds. "The types of foods they are eating are linked to obesity. And this can lead to other health problems that are not just about chronic disease but also infectious diseases."

While Dr. Bottorff says students should be taught about healthy eating while at university the onus should be on the school to provide healthy, and affordable, food options for all students.

"We need to think about the food environment that we provide students. We need to ensure that in our cafeterias and vending machines, there are healthy food options so that they can eat on the go but also make healthy food choices."

It's not an issue going unnoticed. UBC Student Wellness and Food Services work together to address food security and food literacy and recognize that a lack of affordable food options, coupled with the stress of university life, can negatively impact students' food choices.

Food insecure students have access to a low-barrier food bank and a meal share program. Meanwhile, UBCO Food Services' culinary team prioritizes local, organic and sustainably-sourced ingredients, and works with a registered dietitian to ensure a wide variety of food options are available to all diners.

Dr. Bottorff agrees there have been improvements to food options in cafeterias and notes the drinks in many vending machines have been rearranging so healthier items are at eye-level and sugary choices are lower down.

"I know many post-secondary schools are trying to figure out how we can do better and are trying to address these problems," she adds. "It’s great, because four or five years ago, we weren’t. So, I think we’re on the right road, but I think we're a long way from finished."

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Can intermittent fasting help those who live with Crohn's disease?

A UBCO researcher is looking into whether intermittent fasting can help people living with Crohn’s or colitis.

Intermittent fasting, where a person restricts the intake of any calories for a select time period, has become a trendy and popular method of controlling weight and improving overall health.

And while it may not be for everyone, a UBC Okanagan researcher wants to know if intermittent fasting could help people who live with Crohn's disease.

Dr. Natasha Haskey is a registered dietitian and a researcher with UBC Okanagan's Centre for Microbiome and Inflammation Research. She wants to recruit study participants who live with Crohn's and would be willing to try intermittent fasting for a select time period.

Can you explain the benefits of intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting has become a very popular weight loss method; however, its benefits have been shown to extend beyond weight loss. For example, recent research has found that intermittent fasting can improve metabolism, lower blood sugar levels and lessen inflammation.

Although there are many different types of fasting, we plan to study a 16:8 plan, which means you consume your food in an eight-hour window and avoid eating for the remaining 16 hours of the day. Much of the 16-hour fast is when we are sleeping so it is a feasible plan for everyone.

What do you hope to accomplish with your study?

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. While symptoms can vary among patients, common symptoms--which are very debilitating--include persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal cramps and pain. In addition to medication, diet is recognized as a way to help manage symptoms.

There is no research that exists at this time on how intermittent fasting will impact Crohn's disease making this study novel and exciting. If we can demonstrate the ability to help people with Crohn's, it could provide another option for Crohn's patients who are overweight to help manage their disease, reduce the likelihood of a disease flareup, and prevent other complications.

And you're specifically looking for study participants with Crohn's?

We are looking for participants in the Okanagan and Calgary area between the ages of 18 to 75 years with a body mass index of above 25. So someone who is overweight.

What can participants expect from the study?

This is a 12-week study that requires two in-person study visits, and the remainder of the study requirements can be completed from home. Participants will have personalized access to a registered dietitian for 12 weeks.

To find out more:

Okanagan area: Natasha Haskey Tel: 250 258 7455 [email protected]

Calgary area: Munazza Yousef Tel: 403 592 5231 [email protected]

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Trades Foundation program connects OC student to his passion

Orry Renwick with his kinetic chaotic cabinet.

Introduced to carpentry at a young age through the work of his father, Orry Renwick always kept his Dad’s favourite saying in mind.

‘I can make you that’ were words Orry and his brother would hear if they had an idea or a project. It became a frame of mind and more for Orry, who just completed Okanagan College’s Carpenter Joiner Foundation Program.  

“No matter the difficulty or skill level of a project, with the right planning and preparation you can build anything,” says Orry of the philosophy embedded in him by his father. “I’ve always loved the saying ‘I can make you that.’”

OC's Trades Foundation programs  are entry-level training programs for people with little or no experience and can begin your journey to a rewarding career.  Several start this summer. Click here for information.

To gain experience, Orry enrolled in the Carpenter Joiner Foundation Program at OC, learning about furniture, finishes, buildings and structures and beginning the journey of becoming a certified carpenter or cabinet maker.

“Our carpenter foundation programs are a great entrance into a career in woodwork,” says Stephen Speers, OC’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. ““Students learn a wide array of skills such as building science, wood frame construction, product assembly and more. With the variety of skills and knowledge gained during this program, graduates have the option to start an apprenticeship in the construction industry or finishing carpentry, giving them more career opportunities”  

Orry likely said ‘I can make you that’ a few times, building a few popular wooden games that his classmates and instructors enjoyed during the program. For his final project, Orry designed and built a kinetic chaotic cabinet for a dartboard from eight species of wood, most of it re-used from the scrap pile, and close to 100 corks.

“It was a huge undertaking, especially being a final project with a deadline” says Orry. “It was worth every step of the way and the feedback I’ve been getting from family, friends and colleagues has been pretty special. It is a special piece and I love it; I would do it all again.”

With his foundations as a carpenter or cabinetmaker now solidified and his confidence in his abilities increased, Orry is ready to put what he has learned towards his own business, Renworks Custom Woodworks, and the rest of his career in carpentry.

If you are interested in exploring a career as a carpenter, learn what Okanagan College has to offer here.

Plant a Seed Day fundraiser sprouts an impressive $66,000 in gifts for the new Sunflower Childcare Centre on OC's Vernon Campus

 Rob Phare, Sunflower Childcare Centre Campaign Committee Member; Sam Jackson, People and Culture Lead, Maven Lane; Helen Jackman, Executive Director, Okanagan College Foundation; Lloyd Davies, Leadership Donor, Sunflower Childcare Centre Campaign - pictured with children from Maven Lane

Okanagan College Foundation is thrilled to announce the success of Plant a Seed Day, a fun-filled, family-friendly fundraiser that, thanks to generous community support, raised $66,000 for the Sunflower Childcare Centre. The funds will be put towards equipment, furnishings, supplies, and a creative outdoor space where kids can learn and play.

Event guests had the opportunity to experience child-led yoga, sunflower-themed art classes, country line dancing, and a delicious lemonade crawl – all made possible thanks to generous sponsors: Kal Tire, Tolko, Beach Radio, and Castanet.

What's more, the funds raised will have double the impact thanks to the incredible support of community donors, including Lloyd Davies and Janet Armstrong, who have offered to match up to $80,000 of donations received in May!

"We're so grateful to those who gave. Thanks to the incredible community support we received, we have just $14,000 remaining to secure (in May) to unlock the full $80,000 match available," says Helen Jackman, executive director of Okanagan College Foundation. "If the community could help us reach that goal, it would be incredible."

The Sunflower Childcare Campaign has already raised over two million dollars, including an incredible $500,000 contribution from Lloyd Davies and Janet Armstrong, whose generosity inspired the creation of the new Centre.

To learn more about the new, affordable, 44-seat Sunflower Childcare Centre on Okanagan College's Vernon Campus and how you can help students and their families bloom, please visit https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/oc-foundation/sunflower-campaign.

New Dean of Science and Technology to join OC this July

New OC Dean of Science and Tehnology Dr. Halia Valladares Montemayor.

Okanagan College is pleased to announce that Dr. Halia Valladares Montemayor will assume the role of Dean, Science and Technology at Okanagan College starting July 1. Halia is an established leader in post-secondary instruction and administration, and we are excited to have her join OC.  

Halia brings a wealth of experience to her role. She is a former special projects Advisor to the Vice-President Academic at Capilano University and the former Dean of the Faculty of Business and Professional Studies at Capilano. Most recently, Halia was the Academic Dean at Quest University in Squamish, looking after the innovative Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree program.

“I am excited to be joining Okanagan College,” said Halia. “This is an exciting opportunity to contribute to the OC mission to transform lives and communities, and to inspire and empower students, staff and the community through Science and Technology.”

Halia has been active as a business professional in leadership positions throughout her career. She is the Managing Partner at Global Trading & DS, Inc. and is the Casa Mexico Foundation's Vancouver Director and Vice-President. She has also served as a Director on the Board of the West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.  Halia earned her Doctoral Degree in Economics and Business Administration from Burgos University, Spain, and holds an MBA in International Trade and a Master of Science in International Logistics from Texas A & M International University.  She has authored more than 20 research publications for journals, book chapters and books in multiple countries including Mexico, Spain, Canada and the USA.

“I would also like to extend a sincere “thank you” on behalf of Leadership Council to Dr. Rick Federley, who has so capably been serving in the Dean role for many months,” said Dr. Andrew Hay, Provost and Vice President Academic. “We are looking forward to welcoming Halia to Okanagan College and having her join our exceptional team in Science and Technology.”

UBCO research says resistance exercise may help regulate appetite in breast cancer survivors

A photo of a woman doing resistance training exercises.

New research from UBC Okanagan's shows that resistance exercise temporarily reduced hunger-inducing hormones among breast-cancer survivors.

A new study by researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Colorado has found that weight-lifting may benefit appetite regulation and energy balance in breast cancer survivors.

The study, published in Appetite, involved 16 women who had completed treatment for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer within the past five years. On separate days, the women performed a single bout of resistance exercise, such as lifting weights, or sat quietly. The researchers measured their appetite sensations, appetite-related hormones and energy intake before and after each session.

The results showed that resistance exercise temporarily reduced hunger-inducing hormones and increased appetite-suppressing hormones compared to the sedentary condition.

Dr. Sarah Purcell, the study's lead author and an investigator with the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management based at UBCO, said the findings suggest resistance exercise may help breast cancer survivors maintain healthy body weight and prevent obesity-related complications.

"Breast cancer survivors are often at increased risk of obesity," she says. "We know that exercise can suppress appetite in people without previous cancer, at least in the short term, so we tested that in women with previous breast cancer who have low estrogen as part of their treatment. After a single bout of resistance exercise, we found some modest suggestions that exercise changes hormones to promote fullness and decrease hunger."

About 80 per cent of people with breast cancer have estrogen receptor-positive cancer (ER-positive), and the standard of care after radiation or chemotherapy is five to 10 years of estrogen suppression.

Popular culture may portray cancer survivors as emaciated and lethargic, but weight gain--especially for women fighting breast cancer--can be as much of a worry.

"We think from experimental studies that estrogen is essential for appetite regulation and energy metabolism," Purcell says.

Other studies have suggested that people with long-term estrogen suppression may increase their fat mass over the long term and decrease their muscle mass.

"We're not sure what causes that. We also know that exercise can positively impact appetite in people without previous cancer, decreasing hunger or increasing satiety in certain conditions."

Purcell said more research is needed to confirm the long-term effects of resistance exercise on breast cancer survivors' appetite and energy intake and identify the optimal frequency, intensity and duration of activity for this group.

"It's preliminary. People may not realize that exercise can promote appetite hormones in a way that would, at least theoretically, decrease later energy intake. We saw that a single bout of resistance exercise led to lower amounts of a hormone that promotes hunger--ghrelin--and higher amounts of a hormone that promotes satiety or fullness--peptide-yy.

"Again, the changes were modest, so we need to compare it to people without cancer, which we're doing now."

The National Institutes of Health supported the research, which appears in the latest issue of Appetite.

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OC alum inspiring the next generation of learners

OC Alum Travis Holmes

Career goals became within reach, with upgrading options and Business program at Okanagan College


Kelowna – As a high school student, Travis Holmes couldn’t wait to leave school. But now the Okanagan College alum has brought his education full circle and is back in the classroom, encouraging secondary high school students as a careers and entrepreneurship teacher at Rutland Secondary School. 

Holmes, who completed his Bachelor of Business Administration from OC in 2020, says his journey to finding the right career path has taken some time.  

“High school wasn’t for me, and I dropped out of high school in grade 11,” says Holmes. “My gap year stretched into seven as I explored careers and industries. I got to the point where I wanted more, but without further education, I couldn’t achieve the career levels I wanted.” 

With a plan to pursue a business degree, Holmes needed to complete a few courses in Adult Upgrading before enrolling in his program.  

“There are misconceptions around upgrading,” says Holmes. “People think that upgrading just means you didn’t pass a class. But in my experience, upgrading is training that opens doors and it gave me the opportunity to build the skills I needed to be admitted into the business program.” 

“The instructors I had really made the difference for me with their flexibility and kindness,” says Holmes. “In particular, I give credit to one of my instructors, Andrew Pulvermacher, who really took the time to teach and guide me.” 

“There are many different reasons students choose to take Adult Upgrading courses through OC,” say Pulvermacher, now Associate Dean of Arts and Foundational Programs. “We support each person in achieving their educational goals, whether they are pursuing further education, advancing in their careers, or simply enjoying education as a way to enrich their lives. Travis’s story and his achievements are inspiring, and they exemplify the ways education has value and purpose at every stage of our lives. I am honoured to be a part of his story.”  

Holmes completed his business degree and went to work in early 2020, just as COVID-19 was changing so many aspects of the workplace.  

“I quickly realized I wasn’t enjoying my work,” says Holmes. “I spent time looking at my values and what makes me happy. I kept coming back to teaching and educating. I decided that with Covid still affecting so much, there was no better time to do more schooling.” 

Holmes was accepted into the University of British Columbia’s Education program in Vancouver and graduated in 2022.  

Now Holmes is back in the classroom as a secondary high school teacher and sharing his experience with students as they plan for their futures.  

“Try to understand what your end goals and motivations are,” says Holmes. “That will give you some flexibility to explore your options. There may be more than one way of getting there.”  

Know an OC alum doing something remarkable? Nominate them for recognition at https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/60thNominations.  

Okanagan College hosts You at OC Event to showcase programs and services

OC Kelowna Campus

Kelowna - With summer approaching and many people making their college or university plans for the fall, Okanagan College is opening up its doors to the community to help answer questions about post-secondary pathways. 

OC is inviting prospective students, parents, applicants, admitted students and anyone interested in learning more about life at OC to attend the You at OC event on May 24 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Kelowna campus.  

The event will be an opportunity to explore the campus and learn about the range of academic programs, financial aid, and advising services available at OC. Information sessions will be held throughout the evening, covering topics such as returning to education, career opportunities and more.  

You won't want to miss the block parties hosted by each faculty, where you can chat with staff and mingle with current students. Take a tour of OC’s classrooms and labs and discover where your learning journey could take you. The Services Fair will provide an excellent opportunity to learn about the various supports on campus that students can access throughout their academic journey. It's an excellent opportunity to make new connections, learn new things, and start your college experience off right! 

"We are excited to host the You at OC event to showcase our programs, our campus and the range of services available to students," said Dr. Andrew Hay, Provost and VP Academic. “With so many people considering their post-secondary options at Okanagan College, this is an excellent opportunity to explore programs, meet faculty and staff, and learn about the pathways that await them here.”   

The event will also include music, food, and drinks, providing an opportunity for attendees to enjoy the campus atmosphere and connect with other prospective students. 

Admission to the event is free, and attendees can register online at okanagan.bc.ca/planahead. The event is open to applicants, admitted students, parents, and anyone considering Okanagan College for their educational needs. 

For more information on the event, contact the Okanagan College Recruitment team at [email protected]

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