Grad Profiles

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.

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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 (Project Management 2017), Student of The Year award recipient

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.

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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.

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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 →

Happy trails for Graphic Design grad

June 13, 2017

Some people while away the workday daydreaming about their happy place. Not Kristin McPherson. The founder of Happyland Print Shop mixes business with pleasure — day and night.

As communications manager at urban nature preserve FortWhyte Alive, the 2004 Graphic Design grad spends her weekdays where other people like to spend their weekends. When she goes home after work, Happyland is there waiting for her.

Since 2012, the 33-year-old entrepreneur has been increasingly successful at minding her own business, designing and selling prints, tote bags, pins and patches that celebrate Winnipeg’s quirks and customs — socials and salami shoulder, perogies and “majestic” Transcona’s pink flamingos, to name a few.

But McPherson doesn’t want to give up her day job.

“It’s a great gig. The role I’m in now I’m kind of like a one-person marketing department,” she says.

“I run the social media accounts, so every so often I get to go out and take photos of seasons changing or the wildlife that’s out there. It’s really nice; it’s nice to start my day with a walk on our trails with my camera. It’s a pretty incredible place to work — I like to go to work every day. It’s like going to a cabin in the woods, basically.”

Her dual roles are due to a combination of hard work and serendipity. After graduating from Graphic Design, a previous employer supported her professional development by funding a series of RRC Continuing Education marketing courses in Business Administration from 2007 to 2010.

“Design school was obviously very important. It gave me skills that I still use, but equally important was learning about marketing and how to manage your brand,” she says.

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Top-ranked ConEd student earns Transportation Systems scholarship

May 5, 2017

Dimitrios Athanasiou, 2017 Walter Kenneth Morris Memorial Scholarship winner

Congratulations to Red River College Continuing Education student Dimitrios Athanasiou, winner of this year’s Walter Kenneth Morris Memorial Scholarship Fund, which recognizes the province’s top Transportation Systems student.

Awarded annually by the Canadian Institute of Traffic and Transportation (CITT), the $500 scholarship recognizes a Manitoba student who excels in the organization’s Transportation Systems course (online or in class) and who goes on to excel in Transportation Processes.

A Winnipeg resident for the last three years, Athanasiou worked until recently as an inventory clerk at Piston Ring Service. He has completed six out of 11 courses required for his CCLP (CITT-Certified Logistics Professional) designation, all of them with honours.

He also has a BA (Hons) in Marketing from the University of Wolverhampton in the U.K., and seven years experience in the fields of international trade, customer service and logistics from prior employment in retail, transportation and manufacturing/trading in Greece.

“I wish the CCLP designation to update my knowledge of the Canadian logistics industry, and to upgrade my professional credentials as a permanent resident of Canada,” he says. “The Walter Kenneth Morris Memorial Award and Scholarship is very welcome — a nice feeling, for which I am very thankful.”

CITT is Canada’s leading professional development organization in the supply chain and transportation logistics sector, and serves as a collective body of knowledge in the field.

Through joint efforts with post-secondary institutions such as RRC and the University of Manitoba, students are able to earn professional designations in Logistics. The College is considered to be an integral part of CITT’s Level 1 and 2 programming.

The Walter Kenneth Morris Scholarship fund was established in 2006 to honour Morris, who taught both Transportation Systems and Transportation Processes in Manitoba, and who held CITT council positions at both the provincial and national levels.

Learn more about the Transportation and Logistics Management Certificate offered at RRC.

CE student teams with local chefs (and RRC grads) in support of Winnipeg Harvest

January 30, 2017

Leane Funk is using her good taste to fight hunger.

Funk, a professional server and Red River College Continuing Education student, is one of the foodies behind the Winnipeg Supper Club, a regularly occurring secret dinner event.

On Sat., Feb. 25, the Winnipeg Supper Club is teaming up with Winnipeg Harvest to present Harvest Homegrown, a not-so secret, collaborative dinner event. Harvest Homegrown will take place at Winnipeg Harvest (1085 Winnipeg Ave.) and will feature local food prepared by Deseo chef Jordan Carlson and MasterChef Canada runner-up Jeremy Senaris, both of whom are Red River College graduates.

Harvest Homegrown will raise money for Winnipeg Harvest and its hunger-fighting initiatives.

“It just so happened that six months ago, David Northcott (Winnipeg Harvest executive director) ended up at a table I was serving and we just started chatting,” says Funk. “I mentioned who I was and he had heard of (Winnipeg Supper Club). One thing led to another and we discussed starting something together. Then I went and met with Colleen McVarish (Harvest development manager) and now we’re doing a dinner.”

Funk is excited for dinner guests to see Carlson and Senaris in action.

“I thought with their contrasting cooking styles they would be a good collaboration,” she says. “It’s a pretty open kitchen and we have a chef’s table that is available for purchase for a group of 10. It’s available at a bit of a premium but they’ll be front row, watching the chefs and being served by Jeremy and Jordan.” Read More →

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