Inspired in equal measure by his passion for family and for family-run businesses, Regina resident Wayne Morsky has been working for his own family business since the age of 13.
He’s now President and CEO of Morsky Group of Companies, head of a thriving infrastructure development operation that for 55 years been involved in diverse sectors of the industry, including general contracting, highway construction, railway maintenance, industrial services, HySpeed soil nailing, and oil and gas development.
Born and raised in Virden, Man., Morsky graduated from RRC’s Business Administration program in 1981, having attained skills he now describes as vital to his success as an entrepreneur.
“I could take the things I learned at Red River College and put them into daily effect quite quickly after getting out of school,” says Morsky, “especially because I was involved with a family-owned business.”
Just because you start out in an entry-level position doesn’t mean you can’t ascend to great heights.
For proof, look no further than Red River College grad Richard Graumann, who over the decades has worked his way from a job as a construction industry estimator to a senior management position at one of Canada’s leading construction management companies.
“Who would think you could go from being an estimator to being vice-president of a national organization?” says Graumann, a Civil Engineering Technology (CET) grad who’s now the Vice-President (Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario) for Canadian construction firm Stuart Olson Dominion.
“But in fact, at our company, we’ve got 12 VPs that represent different divisions, and of those 12 VPs, five of them came out of estimating.”
Even at a young age, Red River College alum David Hodge had a clear idea of what he wanted: namely, a career in Information Technology.
So when it came time to stake out a post-secondary path, Hodge was drawn to RRC’s Computer Analyst/Programmer option — it was a perfect match.
“The program was practical,” says Hodge, who graduated in 1983. “It got right to the point of what I really wanted to study.”
“It was intense, but it brought out the best in a lot of people. And generally, it was right on the money as far as how practical it proved once I’d graduated.”
Hodge, who’s now Senior Vice-President and Chief Information Officer at Great-West Life, describes his college years as a highly positive experience — one that allowed him to collaborate frequently with classmates, while at the same time getting a feel for real-world working environments.
At the turn of the new millennium, Sean Kavanagh was doing his best to make ends meet, eking out a living as a general contractor in the Lake of the Woods region.
He’d tried his hand at a number of careers, but didn’t find his true calling until 2001, when his wife suggested he let his nose for news lead him to more suitable employment.
“She said, ’You’re the only contractor on the lake who reads three newspapers a day, has the radio constantly tuned to the news station, and can’t wait to come home and watch the six o’clock news every night — maybe that’s where you should be directing your energy,’” Kavanagh recalls.
When the couple moved back home, Kavanagh applied for Red River College’s Creative Communications program, with an eye on entering the field of journalism as soon as he could. Within months, he was reading news reports on a local radio station, and — following work placements with the CBC — appearing on both radio and TV.
These days, she laughingly admits she “didn’t know what she was getting into” when she signed up for Red River College’s Licensed Practical Nursing program in 1985.
But thanks to the training she received here — and the decades of industry experience she’s gathered since — alumna Caroline Chartrand is now a leading force in the ongoing effort to provide Aboriginal communities with access to quality health care.
A member of the Pine Creek First Nation, Chartrand graduated from the College’s LPN program in 1986, and earned her Registered Nursing (RN) diploma from RRC in 1988. She now works as Executive Director of the Diabetes Integration Project, a mobile screening and treatment program administered by health professionals throughout the province.
When locally-renowned chef Adam Donnelly was a kid, he couldn’t have cared less about cooking, menu planning, or even the means by which food ended up on his family’s dinner table.
But after two years of training at Red River College’s Culinary Arts program, Donnelly — now the head chef and co-owner of Segovia Tapas Bar & Restaurant — found he’d discovered his true calling, an epiphany that would kick-start his career as one of the most buzzed-about young chefs in the city.
“When I was younger, I’d just come home and food would be on the table,” says Donnelly, a 28-year-old Pinawa native. “I never helped my mom make food because I was never really that interested in it. Then I got older and moved away, and I had to learn to do it all myself.”
Donnelly’s original post-secondary plan was to pursue film studies in university, but he began bingeing on cookbooks and cooking instruction manuals during a break between semesters. He decided instead to take a year off so he could save up for RRC’s Culinary Arts program; shortly after classes commenced, he knew he was hooked.
By Hayley Brigg, second-year Creative Communications
Having grown up in northern Manitoba, Winnie Giesbrecht knows first-hand just how hard it can be for people living in remote communities to access quality health care.
A 1972 graduate of Red River College’s Licensed Practical Nursing program, Giesbrecht has made it her life’s mission to serve those in need of medical care — overcoming many professional and personal challenges along the way.
Originally from Grand Rapids, Giesbrecht moved to southern Manitoba as a teenager to go to high school, but moved back to her hometown soon after when she got married and settled down to raise a family.
Tragically, Giesbrecht’s husband died, leaving her as the sole provider for her three young children. She relocated to Selkirk to be closer to family, and eventually completed high school while working to support her family. Upon earning her high school diploma, she enrolled in the LPN program at RRC.
“While I was taking my GED in Selkirk, we went on a tour of Red River College and at the time, they had just started the LPN program, and it drew an interest for me. I had always had a desire to work with people and in the medical field before,” said Giesbrecht. “I knew I had to do something to create a better life for my sons and provide for them the best I could, and the only way to do that was to get an education.”
There are all manner of misconceptions surrounding the field of technical communication — chief among them, the one painting practitioners as fussy grammar nerds toiling away on text-heavy instruction manuals and other technical documents.
But even more annoying to Red River College grad Rachel Ines (Technical Communication, 2006) is the stereotype that equates the field’s “plain language” approach with a reduction in intellectual content.
“Writing in plain language doesn’t mean dumbing it down,” says Ines, currently the Communications Coordinator for the University of Manitoba’s Centre on Aging. “It simply means understanding how to adapt your writing for your audience. If you’re writing for an academic audience, you’re using terminology they’ll understand. And if you’re writing for the general public, it’s the same thing. But it’s definitely not dumbing things down.”
A longtime Winnipeg resident, Ines graduated high school with dual passions, having excelled in both English and history classes. After spending a year in B.C., she returned home to earn a degree in Anthropology from the University of Winnipeg — which in turn led to positions with Parks Canada and several local museums, as well as a six-month internship in New Zealand.
But Ines wasn’t completely sold on the idea of pursuing additional degrees in Anthropology, so instead turned her attention to a career in writing. At first, she considered training to become a journalist, but later focused on technical communication — a field that allowed her to further explore her love of writing, and to debunk yet another of those pesky misconceptions.
“A lot of people think technical communication is boring — that you just write instruction manuals all day,” she laughs.
By Cindy Chan, first-year Creative Communications
She is bubbly, personable, and passionate about building relationships with youth – these are the traits that Leilani Esteban, a Child and Youth Care grad from 2007, embodies as the Program Coordinator for Together in Elmwood/Parent Child Coalition, as well as the Community Coordinator for Elmwood Communities That Care.
And as a mother of five, Esteban is no stranger to dealing with children.
“When I entered the Child and Youth Care profession I was a single mother of four,” she says, “but I was an older adult returning to school as a single mother. And I was looking for a field where I could give back to the community.”
By Katherine Dow, first-year Creative Communications
Ellen Barron, a graduate of Red River College’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Diploma program, has a career that’s really going places.
Since graduating from RRC in 2005, Barron, an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, has worked in Edmonton, Ottawa, and Sweden in various aircraft engine repair, maintenance, and audit facilities.
Barron grew up on a farm in rural Manitoba, always surrounded by machinery. “I would help rip apart tractor engines,” Barron said with an enthusiasm only a mechanical buff would understand.
After taking a year off from high school, Barron decided to stake out a career for herself. “I had so many interests and they were really broad,” she explained. “So I thought, ‘I like to travel, and I like mechanics, and I like to fly but I don’t want to be a pilot.’” It was Barron’s grandmother who finally suggested she work as an aircraft mechanic. “I thought, ‘I guess someone needs to fix those,’” she added.