“This is an incredibly special occasion for the Camosun community,” says Sherri Bell, President of Camosun College. “It is an opportunity for us to congratulate our grads and also honour their family, friends, Elders, and instructors for their support and encouragement. We are excited and grateful to have been part of our grads’ amazing journey.”
More than 3,800 students are graduating from Camosun this spring from certificate, diploma and bachelor degree programs in Indigenous Education, Arts and Science, Business, Health and Human Services, Trades, Technologies, Sport Education and Adult Upgrading (Access).
Camosun’s annual Distinguished Alumni Award honours alumni who have graduated more than 10 years ago and who have demonstrated outstanding service and achievement in their field and in their community: Gowan Armstrong – 2003 Graduate of Camosun’s Business Administration diploma programs, in General Management and Accounting.
Camosun’s annual Promising Alumni Award recognizes recent graduates (10 years or less) who have demonstrated outstanding service and achievement in their field and in their community: Mary-Anne Bowcott – 2013 Certificate in Plumbing & Pipe Trades Foundation.
This annual award recognizes the top academic graduates of a two-year or longer program. This year, eight Camosun students have achieved a perfect 9.0 A+ Grade Point Average (GPA) in their studies:
This award is presented annually at graduation to a student who has been enrolled in a certificate, two year diploma or four year undergraduate program and achieves high academic standing in the program and has contributed to the promotion of inclusion, democracy and/or reconciliation within their campus community:
This year will be Camosun’s greenest graduation ceremony. Event programs have been scaled back to reduce the amount of paper used, the flowers purchased by grads and their families are coming from local farms, dishes and cutlery used at the reception is recyclable or compostable, everyone is encouraged to bring their reusable water bottles as there will be additional water stations provided.
Camosun has worked hard to make this event as accessible and inclusive as possible. Transcription of the ceremonies has been added, and access to stage and facilities has been improved for all attendees. Each ceremony will also be live-streamed at camosun.ca/grad for family and friends unable to attend.
Camosun College congratulates all of its outstanding 2019 graduates and award recipients this year.
The Camosun College Graduation Ceremonies are scheduled for June 19 and 20 in the Pacific Institute of Sport Excellence, Interurban campus, 4461 Interurban Road, Victoria, BC.
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
Gowan Armstrong – Diploma in Business Administration, 2003
Forest industry leader, operational controller, and mentor Gowan Armstrong is the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award.
Gowan calls himself an “accidental accountant” – but there’s nothing accidental about the upward trajectory that his career has taken since he completed two Camosun business diplomas (general management and accounting) in 2003.
“What I enjoy most about my work is building relationships and working with all sorts of different people, from operational managers to other finance professionals to senior executives,” says Gowan. “I enjoy variety and human contact.”
While he’s a senior finance team member of Canfor, one of the world’s largest producers of sustainable lumber, pulp, and paper, Gowan’s ability to build relationships and support people has been one of the defining characteristics of his career. He entered the forestry industry after graduation, accepting a position as an accountant at Western Forest Products. Gowan navigated his accounting career through company restructuring and economic downturns, and in 2012 he moved his family from Vancouver Island to Fort St. John to work for Canfor. This year he was promoted within the company and relocated to Prince George.
Gowan has gained a reputation for bringing out the best in people and being generous with his time. He supports the people on his team and throughout the company, and is praised for his work ethic and diplomatic way of handling every situation. His co-workers comment on his composure, respectful manner, and positive outlook.
It’s no accident that Gowan is known within Canfor as a mentor who encourages the leader within everyone. His advice to Camosun graduates is similar to what he tells new finance professionals at the company: “Know how you, as a person, function and process information. Then understand that not everyone is like you and be receptive to other people’s learning styles. Listen to and respect other people, and you will be an effective leader in any organization.”
2019 Promising Alumni Award
Mary-Anne Bowcott – Certificate in Plumbing & Pipe Trades Foundation, 2013
The recipient of the 2019 Camosun College Promising Alumni Award is Mary-Anne Bowcott, a journeyman plumber, business owner, and advocate for women in trades.
Mary-Anne graduated from Camosun’s Plumbing program in 2013, discovering her interest in plumbing after taking the women in trades exploration course. Before starting at Camosun, she already had five years experience in the construction industry as a roofer but knew that it wasn’t the career path for her.
“I definitely learned a lot in school that I wouldn’t have learned on the job,” says Mary-Anne. “Camosun was a great place to learn and the instructors were fantastic.”
Having already gained a reputation for being a hard worker, Mary-Anne took the skills and connections she made at Camosun and jumped into her career. Within two years of graduation, she was running her own business, Westcom Plumbing and Gas in Sooke, and getting active in local trades organizations.
With women making up only 4.7 per cent of building trades workers in BC, Mary-Anne is aware of the obstacles that she and other women face in the industry. She has stepped up as an advocate for women in trades, giving back by supporting other women through the BC Tradeswomen Society and speaking at events.
Yet her all-women crew at Westcom has turned out that way by circumstance, not design. “People perceive me as hiring only women, but that’s just the way that it’s ended up,” she observes. “I’ve never seen a resume from a journeyman plumber, ever. I think I deter men from applying to work for me because I’m a woman in a male-dominated industry.”
Despite the challenges, Mary-Anne and her company continue to gain momentum and recognition within the industry. Her achievements haven’t only caught the attention of Camosun – she recently received the Canadian Construction Association’s (CCA) 2018 CCA Person of the Year Award; the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce Trades and Skilled Labour Excellence Award in 2017 and 2018; and the 2018 BC Construction Industry Leader Award.
She’s enjoying the recognition, but keeping her eyes on the future. “I really want to grow my company to a larger size and have it run itself. I like being ‘on the tools,’ but the hours are long. I’ve always dreamed of having a company with 50 or 100 employees.”
Governor General’s Collegiate Bronze Academic Medals
Recipient: Rebecca Battilana, Diploma in Medical Radiography
Rebecca was selected by Camosun’s Registrar’s Office after achieving a perfect 9.0 GPA or A+ in each of her required courses for her program.
Rebecca Battilana’s desire to study Medical Radiography at Camosun came from a source close to home. “My dad actually introduced me to the Medical Radiography program, he’s a biomedical technologist,” says Rebecca. “He showed me an old x-ray tube that they had for display. His explanation and introduction sparked an interest in me to explore the field further.” She chose Camosun because it was close to home and had the smaller class size that she felt would benefit her learning. “Also, it would allow me to work while I went to school,” says Rebecca. “And still be able to do out of school activities with my friends and family.”
Rebecca enjoyed many aspects of her time at Camosun. “The best part of attending Camosun was the overall atmosphere,” says Rebecca. “The people were very welcoming and I was offered many opportunities to seek extra help or extra time in the lab when needed.”
Rebecca is currently working towards finishing the courses required to be certified as a Computed Tomography technologist as well as her onsite training at the hospital in Prince Rupert. “After that, who knows!” says Rebecca.
On winning the award today, Rebecca is incredibly honoured and extremely gracious. “I’d like to say thank you to everyone who made this possible,” says Rebecca. “Because it wasn’t just my hard work, it was also the never ending support from my parents, friends, and teachers that helped me achieve my grades.”
Recipient: Kelsey Dawn Rowe, Diploma in Medical Radiography
Kelsey was selected by Camosun’s Registrar’s Office after achieving a perfect 9.0 GPA or A+ in each of her required courses for her program.
Before starting at Camosun, Kelsey worked at a Chiropractic office for almost 10 years. Her work there sparked her passion for working in healthcare and she began to research career options. “I began to understand how medical imaging can help diagnose and treat many conditions,” says Kelsey. “And I realized how many new doors it could open for me as a technologist”. She chose Camosun because she wanted to be able to stay close to home. “It’s such a beautiful place to live,” says Kelsey. “And the majority of my family lives on the island so I had lots of support throughout the program.”
For Kelsey, Camosun’s small class sizes and the amazing support from the Medical Radiography instructors were the best things about her time at Camosun. And, it didn’t hurt that she was living in beautiful British Columbia.
At this time, Kelsey is enjoying working as an x-ray technologist in Duncan at the Cowichan District Hospital, where she’s been employed since she completed her third and final clinical practicum. “It has opened many doors for me and my future plans,” says Kelsey. She plans to continue with x-ray for the next year and then challenge the Computed Tomography exam in 2020. She’s also been contemplating continuing her education with either Mammography or Ultrasound in the years to come.
Kelsey was speechless when she received the email from the Dean of Health and Human Services, Cynthia Smith, saying she had won the Governor General’s Collegiate Bronze medal. “I feel that the time and effort I put in throughout the program truly paid off in more ways than one,” says Kelsey. “Not only did I graduate and secure a job immediately, but I feel that the instructors and staff at Camosun recognized the difficulty of this and have acknowledged my accomplishments.
Recipient: Andrew Simon Carl Rozendal, Diploma in Information and Computer Systems
Andrew was selected by Camosun’s Registrar’s Office after achieving a perfect 9.0 GPA or A+ in each of his required courses for his program.
Born and raised in Victoria, Andrew decided to come to Camosun after finishing a Bachelor of Arts in Greek and Roman Studies. “Camosun was highly recommended by several people when I told them I was contemplating returning to UVic for a computer science degree,” says Andrew.
For Andrew, Camosun’s Information and Computer Systems program was outstanding. “The one on one learning opportunities due to smaller class sizes was a huge positive,” says Andrew. “And the career guidance. The instructors were always there when I had questions. It really prepared me for the industry.”
Currently, Andrew is working for a company called FAST Enterprises and working on a project with the B.C. Ministry of Finance in Victoria. “I’m looking forward to continuing to learn how to tackle and solve real world problems with technology,” says Andrew. “I enjoy solving complex problems that require efficient algorithms. It’s very satisfying when you get that eureka moment!” He’s looking ahead to learning more about low level programming, specifically operating systems and taking on additional leadership rolls.
Andrew is honoured to be recognized for his hard work. “Camosun was a great experience,” says Andrew. “I’m really thankful for the dedication and effort all my instructors and the department put into the program. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished and plan to continue to pursue excellence in the future.”
Recipient: Camille Johns, Diploma in Hospitality Management, Internship Designation
Camille was selected by Camosun’s Registrar’s Office after achieving a perfect 9.0 GPA or A+ in each of her required courses for her program.
Camille’s decision to apply to Camosun started with the class size. ““I was attracted to the smaller class sizes,” says Camille. “I was seeking a more intimate learning experience.” She also appreciated the Camosun’s emphasis on hands-on learning. “I became interested in taking the Hospitality Management diploma program when I learned about the strong applied learning philosophy,” says Camille. “I recognized that this philosophy matched my learning style and more importantly would provide me with the knowledge and skills to pursue entrepreneurial business ventures.”
While at Camosun it was having the opportunity to learn in a multi-cultural environment that was the best part. “I am confident that this specific learning environment developed my ability to work in a team and interact with those from different cultures than my own,” says Camille.
Camille has already been accepted to attend Royal Roads University in September for the Bachelor of Commence in Entrepreneurial Management degree program. Following graduation, she intends to complete her teaching certification at the University of Victoria. “It’s my long term goal to encourage the creativity in children and teach them to be innovative entrepreneurs of the future,” says Camille.
“I’m incredibly grateful to receive the Governor General’s Collegiate Bronze Medal award,” says Camille. “The memories that I have of Camosun and the transferrable skills that I gained are two things that I will carry with me forever, but it’s a very rewarding feeling to be recognized for my efforts.”
Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation
Recipient: Aleena Lano, Diploma in Indigenous Studies
Aleena grew up in Stockton, California but had strong roots on Vancouver Island. Her father’s side of the family is from Brentwood Bay, part of the Tsartlip First Nation (W̱SÁNEĆ People). “Growing up I didn’t really know this side of my family,” says Aleena. “So coming to Camosun aligned perfectly with getting to know my family and my culture while pursuing my post-secondary studies.”
Aleena was in a very unique situation as she was considered an International student and an Indigenous student. Except for some bureaucratic hassles, it made for a great learning environment. “The best part of my experience at Camosun was being part of both the International department and Eyēʔ Sqȃ’lewen,” says Aleena. “I felt like I really belonged and included here.” Aleena has taken advantage of her time at Camosun becoming involved by volunteering with various Eyēʔ Sqȃ’lewen events and participating on the college’s Sustainability Outreach Team.
With her time at Camosun coming to an end, for now, Aleena is looking towards fulfilling her career goals. After she graduates she plans on continuing to UVic to get her Bachelor of Social Work degree, and later taking a dual law degree. Ultimately she is looking to support our Indigenous communities. “Knowing the law and being a social worker go hand-in-hand,” says Aleena. “I feel it would be very beneficial for working with our Indigenous communities.”
Aleena loves getting to know her family and culture. She participates in Community Kitchen, a program that allows people in her community to cook and share a meal together, and she volunteers for Project Reclaim, a youth program that focuses on reclaiming water and land and includes restoration work in and around the community.
“I feel very honored and privileged to be receiving the Lt. Governor’s Silver Medal Award,” says Aleena. “I am very grateful to all of the staff at Eyē Sqâ’lewen, my family, my teachers, my friends, and cohort for supporting me and helping me get where I’m at today. I wouldn’t be receiving this award without their love and support.”