Samantha Cook and Dora Anderson inside the new Vernon Trades Training Centre. (Photo contributed)

Bursaries available for trades students at Okanagan College

“With this bursary, we want women to know that there is a place for you in this industry and a place for you to excel.”

For students stepping into trades training at Okanagan College, several new bursaries established by MQN Architecture and Interior Design will help provide a solid foundation.

The MQN Architecture and Interior Design Awards for Vernon Trades will provide two annual $750 bursaries for any student entering a trades foundation program. A $1,000 bursary will be awarded annually to a woman entering a trades foundation program.

“We believe in mentoring and teaching the next generation of designers and trades people. When looking at how we could do more, we decided providing financial support was the missing piece,” said Dora Anderson, a partner at MQN. “Had we not been given a hand up or support when starting out in our careers, who knows, we may not be here today.”

Related: Okanagan College professor awarded for promoting financial literacy

Related: Okanagan College achieves second LEED Platinum award

MQN is one of the largest architectural firms in the B.C. interior, based in Vernon. The firm has a long history of working with the College, having been the architect for its Centre for Learning at the Kelowna campus. Most recently, MQN was the architect for the College’s new Trades Training Centre in Vernon.

Anderson said their firm sees first-hand the need for more skilled tradespeople in the Okanagan, making the opportunity to work on the Vernon Trades Centre a special contribution to their community.

“For students to see that they can get trained and stay home and support their community is pretty exciting.”

Anderson adds that creating a women in trades bursary was particularly significant for her and other female staff at MQN. When MQN started it was all male partners. Today the firm is managed by two male and two female partners.

“It’s a huge honour to give a hand up to another woman who aspires to push ahead in a field that is typically a male-dominated environment,” said Anderson. “With this bursary, we want women to know that there is a place for you in this industry and a place for you to excel.”

Samantha Cook, 24, from Enderby is the first female recipient of the MQN Architecture and Interior Design Award. She is currently enrolled in the Carpenter Foundation program. She said her goal is to help find solutions to the housing crisis affecting some Indigenous communities that lack infrastructure, or where aging buildings may contain mould and provide poor living conditions.

“I am so grateful to accept this award. This will help me focus on my studies right now, but it will also help my community after I graduate,” said Cook.

As a result of the recent fundraising campaign for the new Vernon Trades Training Centre, there is more than $200,000 available for student awards, bursaries and program support for students entering the trades at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus.

The Trades Training Centre was also recently recognized with an Award of Excellence for Best Institutional Project at the Thompson Okanagan Kootenay Commercial Building Awards.

Related: Okanagan College launches Indigenous cooking training

Related: Okanagan College seeks to build student housing in Vernon, Salmon Arm, Kelowna

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