Kamloops’ Christina Fast ( left), winner of the Okanagan College Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Award, and Vernon’s Bree Cawley (right), winner of the asspciation’s Distinguished Alumni Award, meet with Jayne Brooks, first recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2002. (Okanagan College photo)

Kamloops’ Christina Fast ( left), winner of the Okanagan College Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Award, and Vernon’s Bree Cawley (right), winner of the asspciation’s Distinguished Alumni Award, meet with Jayne Brooks, first recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2002. (Okanagan College photo)

Okanagan women honoured by college alumni

Vernon’s Bree Cawley and Kamloops’ Christina Fast given awards for their post-college work

Two female graduates of Okanagan College have earned the highest honours from the Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA) for their outstanding contributions within their communities and industries.

Kamloops’ Christina Fast was honoured with this year’s Young Alumni Award.

“I was a careless 19-year-old with no clear direction in life when a neighbour recommended I register for the Continuing Studies Sterile Processing Certificate program at OC,” said Kelowna’a Fast, now residing in Calgary.

“I was fortunate to have had a number of inspiring instructors and preceptors throughout the program who imparted their knowledge and passion for a field of healthcare that deserves much more recognition for its essential role in patient safety.”

2019 Young Alumni Award – Christina Fast from Okanagan College on Vimeo.

Since graduating from the program (which has since been renamed Medical Device Reprocessing Certificate) in 2006, Fast became an International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management certificated educator and began teaching internationally trained health care workers, unable to be licensed in Canada, how to sterilize surgical instruments.

READ MORE: Okanagan College’s Young Alumni Award winner to perform

In 2011 she volunteered to work as a sterile processor on the Africa Mercy ship, stationed in Sierra Leone. Not only did she improve sterile processing practices on the ship and ran education sessions in the evenings to ensure staff were appropriately trained, but she also visited local hospitals. Finding no organization that worked to address the obvious need for proper sterilization, Fast founded SPECT, a Sterile Processing Education Charitable Trust.

Over the last eight years, SPECT has worked with staff from more than 100 hospitals and 60 clinics in African Nations. Fast has educated and mentored more than 500 workers as well as advocated with local and national governments to address standards to improve sterile processing.

“I would have never dreamt that a sterile processing certificate would lead me to starting a charitable organization that has now gone on to impact thousands of lives in 14 low-income countries,” said Fast. “I’m so proud to have begun this rewarding career at Okanagan College.

Vernon’s Bree Cawley was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award.

A graduate of the Bachelor of Business Administration program in 1999, Cawley has made her mark in communications, marketing and non-profit leadership for a host of organizations.

2019 Distinguished Alumni – Bree Cawley from Okanagan College on Vimeo.

In August 2017, after realizing the lack of support there was for her daughter who was born with a brain abnormality, Cawley founded the Okanagan chapter of GIRLS CLUB, a group for girls with autism and neuro-developmental differences formed to give girls a place to be themselves and connect with others who share in their experience. It is 100 percent volunteer-run and relies on donations to operate.

“We offer regularly scheduled free meetups and activities for these girls, as often these kiddos are the ones that go from therapy to therapy, but don’t get the chance to connect with other like-minded kids to make friends,” said Cawley who, initially, was funding the club’s activities out of her own pocket before receiving essential grants to continue the program. Since the club’s inception, activities have been free for members, which creates increased access for families that may not be able to afford club registration fees.

“Through GIRLS CLUB, Bree provides families in the Okanagan with an opportunity to connect, have friendships and form community,” says Vicky Ryan, Founder, GIRLS CLUB. “The work that Bree is doing is affecting hundreds of families.”

Cawley, current communications officer for the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation, was humbled by the award.

“I am still not sure how I deserve to stand up here and accept this award, but I am incredibly grateful for the chance to do so,” she said.

“I extend my gratitude to my fellow BBA grads who became lifelong friends (one of which even became my husband), my amazing instructors, and the Okanagan College Alumni Association, who have all supported me in my career, in my life, and allowed me to be exactly where I was meant to be right now.”

Vernon’s Kara Kazimer, president of the board of the alumni association, said both women have done outstanding work.

“Their commitment to their communities and industries is remarkable,” said Kazimer. “We congratulate both of them on their accomplishments and can honestly say we are excited to see what they do next – our community is a better place because of people like them.”



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

College

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Big White Ski Resort pictured on Feb. 26. (Big White Ski Resort)
No new COVID-19 cases at Big White in past week: IH

No more cases have been detected since IH’s last Big White Mountai update, Feb. 19

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Female deputy fire chief embraces the challenges

“Fighting a fire can be taught to anyone,” says Kelowna deputy fire chief, Sandra Follack

Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield. (Contributed)
Gender no deterrent for Kelowna businesswoman, MLA

“He looked at me, and he said, ‘You’ll never be as good of a developer as I am.’” — Renee Merrifield

While the Okanagan Rail Trail remained open, Coldstream parks have been closed for a month now, but could re-open mid-May. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Funds link Okanagan Rail Trail to Predator Ridge

1.3-km section of multi-use trail with a safe crossing under Highway 97

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here are the stories that made waves in the Okanagan-Shuswap

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society said the new caribou pen near the Nakusp Hotsprings is close to completion. (Submitted)
Maternity caribou pen near Nakusp inches closer to fruition

While Nakusp recently approved the project’s lease, caribou captures are delayed due to COVID-19

BC Housing has proposed that the emergency winter shelter at Victory Church at 352 Winnipeg Street be extended as a shelter until March 31, 2022. It was originally intended to be open until April 1, 2021. (Jesse Day - Western News)
One more year of ‘temporary’ homeless shelter in Penticton?

BC Housing has applied to extend Victory Church as a shelter for those experiencing homelessness

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Most Read