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Entrepreneurial spirit inspires higher education

Madison Greening was fresh out of high school when she took over janitorial contracts from someone who retired. Starting her own cleaning business prompted Madison to pursue a Business Administration Diploma at NWCC. Running a business allows her to balance studies with work and help pay for her tuition. The flexibility of online courses also helps Madison complete the courses she needs.

Madison admittedly didn’t like school when she was growing up, but has learned that college is a different experience. “You get to study things that interest you and it gets you thinking about what you want to do,” says Madison. “I am in the Business Administration program because I feel it will open more doors for me in the future.”

The time management skills Madison has developed at NWCC have helped with her business endeavours and the courses are relevant for any setting. “The Business Administration program is versatile and can transfer to any industry,” says Madison, “I especially found business communications can apply to any job, including the work I do.”

Madison hasn’t made any definitive decisions for her future after college but the opportunities are endless. With the skills she is learning at NWCC Madison will have a solid base for whatever it is she decides to pursue. 

Posting positivity

January 13, 2017

Do you know Kimberley Wilson? The name may not ring any bells, but if you are a woman attending class on the Terrace campus, you’ve likely seen her work.


Kimberley is a first year college and career preparation student who is behind the prominent sticky note project that has taken over the women’s washrooms since September.


Each of the colourful notes has a positive and uplifting message written on it. With overarching themes of encouragement, self-confidence and triumph, they aim to help readers get through life’s difficulties.


Statements like: ‘you can do this;’ ‘you are so important;’ and ‘you are beautiful;’ have brought positivity into the lives of staff, faculty and students. Up until recently no one knew who was behind the movement.


Accessibility services coordinator, Kezia Sinkewicz wanted to change that. She sought out, the then anonymous, Kimberley to recognize her efforts.


“I heard it was brightening many people’s day and when I found out who was creating the buzz, I wasn't surprised,” said Kezia. “Kimberley is a very sincere, kind and upbeat student who deserves to be recognized; especially because she wasn't doing it for the recognition.”


Kimberley began this project in April 2016 while attending Caledonia Senior Secondary School in Terrace. She was inspired by an email she received for a scholarship application that required applicants to complete a good will styled task; the sticky note project being one of them. Though she never applied for the scholarship, Kimberley thought it was a great idea.


“Most of [the notes] I come up with by myself, but for some of them I get inspiration from the internet, posters or quotes,” said Kimberley, who shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. “I did it every single day at Caledonia and I do it every single day here.”


Kimberley is attending NWCC to upgrade her math and has big dreams for her future. She plans to complete her degree locally and thanks to NWCC’s transfer agreements, she is able to do just that. Kimberley plans to do her first two years at NWCC and from there, go on to attain her Bachelor’s of Education from UNBC in Terrace.


“Being a teacher has been my dream since I was 11 years old. I also wanted to be a superhero, which I kind of feel like with this project,” said Kimberley. “I’ve always considered teachers to be [superheroes too].”


When asked why she believes it’s important to do initiatives like this, Kimberley recalled a very rewarding moment.


She walked into the women’s washroom and discovered a response on a post she had written. The original note said, “Feel your heart beat. That is your purpose,” to which the woman replied, “Thank you, I was going to give up today.”


It is reactions like this, which signal to Kimberley that she is doing something right.  She finds so much joy with the project that she also does it at her part-time job and is certain it will be something she continues as a teacher and beyond.


Thank you Kimberley, for adding such value to the NWCC community.

NWCC Alum proves learning is for life.

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” – Ronald E. Osborn

Northwest Community College alumna, Jennifer Maillet has been living proof of this quote since graduating with her Practical Nursing (LPN) diploma in 2002. The Terrace resident has found a passion for learning and realizes that education is an important part of growth. She has spent ample time doing that at NWCC.

Much of Jennifer’s adult life has been engaged in post-secondary education. She knew from a young age that she wanted to be active in the community and chose programs to reflect that.

After acquiring her LPN and having her second child, Jennifer realized shift work was not going to be ideal. She wanted to spend time with her child and shift work was not conducive to raising a family. Jennifer opted to open a daycare to support her family, while also serving the community.

She created Willow Creek Daycare in 2005. It has since grown to become Willow Creek Childcare Centre, Terrace’s largest childcare provider, with 144 spaces.

In 2012 Jennifer began taking courses to obtain an Associate Degree, specializing in Criminology, at NWCC.

“I was drawn to criminology out of interest to see if there was some link between childhood, adolescent, and adults,” said Jennifer. “I wanted to learn [if there was] someway to impact people before their criminal lives started.”

In 2014, Jennifer put her Associate Degree on hold to enrol at the University of Northern British Columbia for her Master of Business Administration (MBA). After graduating, she has now decided to finish her Associate Degree at NWCC.

While completing her MBA, Jennifer managed to open a second business, providing the community with a local option for private nursing and homecare, while also working as a community coroner.

“I never thought being a coroner would be in my job description,” said Jennifer, whose interest deepened after taking psychology and criminology courses at NWCC. “I want to help families understand how and why their loved one died. It allows me to be part of the bigger picture to help prevent similar deaths in the future.”

When asked about the contrast between being a coroner, health and childcare provider, Jennifer said all three positions are similar in her eyes.

“I have a deep desire to impact our community and help people. I am able to do this in all three jobs, where I believe I can make a difference and impact people’s lives.”

In closing, Jennifer reminisced about her time spent at NWCC.

“With the support of NWCC and its professors I realized my potential and felt supported,” she said. “I wouldn't be where I am today without people like Michael Brandt, Sheree Ronaasen, Chris Gee, and Dr. Altar. I am forever grateful.”


Cooking for a Cause

Northwest Community College student Jeannie Campbell is enrolled in the Professional Cook Level 1 (PC1) Apprenticeship program. Originally from Gitanmaax of Hazelton, Jeannie was raised in Prince Rupert, but has been living in Kitwanga for the past 32 years with her husband and children. In 2009 she achieved her certificate in NWCC’s Business Administration (BADM), but decided to return this year to pursue her passion in the food industry; but not without the encouragement of her family, especially her daughter Sabrina, who is also enrolled in her second year of the Professional Cook program and has completed her BADM.

“First I took BADM then Sabrina copied me, then she took PC and now I’m copying her,” laughs Jeannie, who wasn’t even sure she was going to secure a spot, “…it was a fluke I made it in; someone dropped-out and I was asked to join one week late.”

Recently NWCC Professional Cook students put their skills to good use when they travelled to K’San Place in Terrace. Students helped serve up a nourishing lunch of soups, sandwiches and wraps to those in need. Since 1979, K’San Society has been providing unique social services to the Terrace community such as programming, safe shelter, food and essentials to the homeless, disadvantaged and women and children fleeing abusive circumstances.

Peggy Julseth, a Coordinator for K’San Place said the event was a success, “Wow! What a great lunch! Our final count was 57, once latecomers were fed. Even after… we had several people come to the kitchen door, so we fed them too.”

Jeannie was one of the students who participated in the event and is no stranger to volunteering. She spends much of her free time giving back to two non-profit organizations; one helps gather Christmas presents for children and the elderly, and the other fundraises for Elders in her community.

“Most of the money we raise [for the non-profits] comes from catering. This is how I became intrigued by the whole food industry,” said Jeannie. “I love to see people eat and enjoy the food [I’ve cooked], it makes me happy when they want seconds.”

Jeannie’s passion for helping others and serving her community was inspired at a young age.

“I believe giving back to the community is important. My mother and grandmother would always say, ‘because you just never know when you might need help and it will be there.’”

Jeannie enjoys cooking for others, especially her family, and with all the opportunities the program provides her, she has registered for the next level of her apprenticeship and will be continuing on to Professional Cook Level 2.

“I enjoy this program. It opens so many more doors for me and I have the opportunity to cook different foods and the challenge of creating a meal that I can’t even pronounce.” She adds, “…especially trying something new, and then cooking it for my family when I go [home] for the weekends.”

Both she and Sabrina intend to complete the entire program with the goal of being accredited with their Red Seals in Professional Cooking.

For more information on the Professional Cook Apprenticeship program please visit:

For more information about K’San Place & the services offered:

Your path to engineering starts at NWCC.

While taking general science courses at Northwest Community College, Ethan Wiebe discovered his passion for physics. Now he is on his way to a career as a Civil Engineer. He came to NWCC after high school to take university credit courses. This prepared him to move to the University of British Columbia (UBC). He eagerly shared his enthusiasm for his area of study and his time at NWCC exclaiming, “I think it’s great, and more students should consider the College.”

At NWCC Ethan discovered he enjoyed solving physics problems and found the labs really interesting. His older brother Nolan is an engineering student, which helped Ethan choose his career path, he jokes, “I’ve always tried one-upping him.”

When asked what about engineering captured his interest Ethan says, “Engineers solve real-world problems with physics. We’re around things engineers have built every day, from roadways to skyscrapers.”

NWCC Physics professor Regan Sibbald says, “Ethan was an excellent student with a bright future.”

Ethan’s family has roots in NWCC. “I expected to come to the College,” he says, “my dad also went to NWCC, so I knew it was a good choice.”

Ethan earned entrance scholarships at NWCC and living at home was affordable which gave him extra time to focus on his studies. “It has definitely contributed to my success,” says Ethan, “it made it easier to adapt to living alone.” “A year at college gave me time to really think,” adds Ethan, “I was planning on going into healthcare, I actually wanted to do less Physics and Math, but being exposed to physics set me on a completely different path.”

Ethan will be heading into his second year at UBC this fall after a summer working in Terrace. As for his future plans he wants to return to the region so he can enjoy a life in the nature he loves.

From NWCC to the nation's capital.

“I began to discover a political interest a very young age,” said Matthew. “My grandfather was always interested in politics so we had lots to talk about and it was a great thing to connect over.”

Now Matthew Simpson finds himself politically active in Ottawa, a city he loves.

“There is a ton of heritage and parliamentary activity so what better place is there to learn about political science in Canada?” he said. “Plus, I have always been an Ottawa Senators fan, so the hockey games are fantastic.”

When he graduated from high school in 2014 he was unsure of where his educational path would lead.

“I didn’t really have great study skills when I was in high school,” said Matthew.  “And I felt intimidated about going to university without a better sense of what I wanted to do with my life.”

In the fall of 2014, Matthew enrolled in first-year university credit courses at NWCC. Where he built a work ethic and study skills, and the campus support network also helped him to discover new opportunities.

“Just talking to an Educational Advisor at NWCC was easier than it is at a huge university,” he said. “I also found the small classroom discussions where I learned a lot about myself and from my classmates.”

Matthew credits his Political Science professor, Dina Von Hahn, with helping him reach his full potential.

“She always told me that I should be confident in my study skills and that they would lead to my success at university and beyond.”

Matthew soon applied his new found work ethic by transferring his first year of studies and attending Carlton University in Ottawa the next academic year.

His major? Political Science. And although it was a big adjustment, Matthew was able to keep up.

“At first, it was hard to attend a lecture hall with over 800 students because the atmosphere was so dry and different from the classes I had taken at NWCC,” he said. “But I had learned a lot about taking notes and keeping up on my reading so that was super helpful.”

Not only has Matthew been a busy university student and hockey fan, but he also volunteers at Skeena-Bulkley Valley Member of Parliament, Nathan Cullen’s office in Ottawa. Experience to expand on the knowledge he’s gaining at the university.

“I have another three semesters to finish, and then I’ll have my political science degree,” said Matthew. “I know that my path will lead to a career in politics and I know that I will return to Terrace as this is, and will always be, my home.”

NWCC looks forward to hearing about Matthew’s continued success as he pursues his passion for politics.

For more information on our university credit program and political science courses, click here.





Part-time studies lead to rewarding careers

Starting a post-secondary education as an adult learner may seem daunting, but many keen students take on this challenge at NWCC and are rewarded with careers that they love.

Greg Mckay went back to school at 35 to upgrade his English, math, and computer skills. In 2009, he completed his upgrading courses through NWCC’s Career & College Preparation program at the Prince Rupert Campus. The next year Greg was accepted to NWCC’s one-of-a-kind Applied Coastal Ecology (ACE) program. 

Born and raised in Gitxaala, a Tsimshian island community of 500 people, Greg grew up by the ocean, spending lots of time on the beaches and in the local mountains. With his knowledge of this environment, he found himself drawn to the ACE program.

“What I enjoyed the most about NWCC’s Ecology program was the hands-on learning during field labs, like field survey techniques, wildlife identification, and timber cruising methods,” said Greg. “The most challenging part of my studies was the university-level academic courses in technical writing, Chemistry and Biology during second year.”

While he was a student Greg worked and studied part-time and volunteered for minor basketball and soccer. Earning a two-year diploma part-time can stretch the program to more than three years. Greg was determined and in 2013 he graduated with an Applied Coastal Ecology Diploma.

“My instructors were very helpful and knowledgeable,” said Greg. “I had felt supported by the staff my entire time at NWCC in Prince Rupert and I am grateful for their help. But the best supporter I have to thank is my wife,” he said. “My previous work experience and knowledge of living off the land and the sea have also been a big part of my success in the Ecology program.”

Greg was hired as a fisheries technician for the Gitxaala Nation and has been working there for the past five years. He does coastal monitoring and assessment work that involves stream walks, crab surveys, abalone surveys, on-land monitoring and other duties that relate to coastal ecosystems.

“I am very proud to be a part of our Gitxaala Fisheries Program,” said Greg. “Our traditional ways of living off the land are under a lot of pressure from industries, climate change and growing populations. I recommend the Applied Coastal Ecology program to future students because it’s useful to people who want to learn about coastal resources and help keep our seafood, plant life and trees healthy.”

For more information about Career and College Preparation upgrading courses, visit:

Learn about the Applied Coastal Ecology program at:


Student sees success by following her passion.

If you've visited the NWCC Bookstore Cafe in Terrace, you have likely seen Hana Niemi

smiling behind the coffee counter or helping you get the right textbooks for your course.


What you probably did not know is that Hana is also a business student at NWCC.

Employed at Northwest Community College for the past three years, she’s been pursuing

her Business Administration Certificate.


Taking one course per semester while working full-time, Hana also began running her own

business one year ago.


“I enrolled in the Business Administration program and began by taking courses in

entrepreneurship, marketing, communications and business math,” says Hana.  “My instructors

have all been amazing and the course content is very useful for starting a business.” 


With a passion for animals, Hana knew that she wanted to work with dogs but she wasn’t

sure how.


“An opportunity to travel to the Okanagan to complete an intensive three-week program as

a dog trainer came up,” says Hana. “I just followed my intuition and registered.”


When she returned home, she began to market herself as K9 O’Hana Dog Obedience.

She had her first client within a week. 


“I’ve mostly used social media to promote myself,” she says.  “There’s a great market

here for dog training and the response from the community has just been amazing.”


Her entrepreneurship instructor, Seth Downs, credits Hana’s drive and enthusiasm about

ideas for her success.


“Hana has taken her passion for animals and found a way for it to be business successful,” says Downs.

Her dedication and openness to try new things have allowed her to fill a market niche. I think she’s on

her way to being a very successful entrepreneur.”


Recently, Hana also decided to submit a business plan to a Thrive North challenge hosted by

Futurpreneur Canada. As an initiative to enhance entrepreneurship opportunities and empower youth,

it connects young entrepreneurs to business resources, financing and mentoring with the goal of

inspiring and supporting them as they launch and grow businesses.


After submitting business plans and presenting their ideas to a panel of judges contestants have

the opportunity to win up to $10,000.


Hana’s business pitch included plans to expand as a dog daycare, grooming, and training facility.


“I was very prepared but extremely nervous,” laughs Hana. “The experience was memorable and

I learned a lot.”  


Although Hana didn’t make it to the competition finals, she feels accomplished for trying something

new and plans to continue to pursue her ideas while also completing her courses at NWCC.


And to also keep serving a great latte with a smile at the Bookstore Café. 



For more information about our Business Administration program please click here.

To see more about Hana's dog obedience training you can visit her Facebook Page here.

Visit the Thrive North website here.


Student meets challenges head on to succeed in professional cooking

Angela Ettinger was able to secure a well-paying job at Houston Forest Products with the employment training skills and accompanying certificates she earned through a work experience program called Essential Youth Employability Skills  (EYES) that ran through NWCC in 2011 and 2012.  Unfortunately, four years later the company ceased operation and Angela needed to re-train. To maintain her income level Angela knew a trade would be ideal so she enrolled in the Professional Cook program at the Houston campus.

Angela is dyslexic and credits her success to the NWCC instructors and learning specialists that supported and encouraged her. “The reading was incredibly intimidating” she says, but with the aid of advanced software technology provided by NWCC which reads the text aloud, and a great deal of personal determination, Angela completed the Professional Cook 1 program with flying colours in 2015.

After graduation Angela relocated to Quesnel and worked at a popular food chain before making the move to a local pub. There she enjoys making fresh food and expanding her culinary repertoire. Her goal is to gain experience and perhaps go on to enrol in the Professional Cooking Level 2 program.  Angela notes, “wherever the future takes me, I know I can always fall back on the training I received through the EYES and the Professional Cook programs.  These have given me the confidence and financial security to make my own choices.”

As Sandi Lavallie, NWCC CCP instructor, puts it “Angela is one of those students who is a delight to teach. She is diligent, dedicated and always willing to take up a challenge, no matter what. Her positive ‘can do’ approach to life is something we can all learn from.”

A career path that fits a passion for outdoor sports

Robin Millard-Martin is soon to be a Northwest Community College Associate’s Degree graduate. She will be attending convocation in April 2016 where she will receive her science credentials. Robin is set to continue her studies at Royal Roads University next fall where she will be transferring into third year of a Bachelor of Environmental Science degree program.

“I began my studies at NWCC, taking a variety of University Credit courses, not knowing where my interests laid,” said Robin. “After one semester, I discovered that I loved sciences, so I decided to take the Associate of Science, Environmental Geoscience Specialization.”

Originally from southern Ontario, Robin grew up downhill skiing, and felt drawn to the mountains of Canada’s West Coast. She then started travelling to BC.

After high school, Robin moved to BC, where she focused on skiing, fishing, working, and traveling.

“I was hooked on the west coast and there was no turning back,” said Robin.

After a few years Robin settled in Smithers, and worked as a forest technician.

Robin was drawn to Terrace, in part, for its unique backcountry skiing and fishing opportunities. Though it was hard for her to leave the Bulkley Valley, she quickly grew fond of Terrace.

“Loving the area where you study or work makes it more enjoyable and worth the hard work,” said Robin.

Like many students, Robin was interested in the “real world” experience offered with the Associate of Science degree at NWCC. The specialization in Geosciences is ideal for students who have an interest in the natural sciences and a love for the outdoors.

Encompassing a broad range of disciplines, Environmental Geosciences allows students to develop an understanding of Earth’s related natural systems and processes.

“I really like how my courses and lab work include a lot of field work in our local surroundings,” said Robin. “It’s fun to put into practice what I learn in the classroom.”

In 2015, Robin received the Dr. Ed Harrison Award, a bursary awarded to a NWCC student who has shown promise while successfully completing their first year of studies.

After her first year, Robin was hired for a summer practicum at an environmental management consulting firm in Terrace. She applied her classroom skills as part of a team conducting field research on sockeye salmon.

“As a student, getting a summer work placement was difficult,” said Robin. “But the key was to get myself out there by networking with potential employers and showing them that I had a number of technical skills that I learned through applied studies. I found that sending my resume to employers months in advance – as early as December, was very helpful.”

Robin will complete her bachelor’s degree at Royal Roads in an intensive 12-month study period, so she can quickly return to the Northwest. She is interested in working in the area of fisheries research, but is keeping her options open to all opportunities available.

Photos: Robin Millard-Martin measuring snow depth and density at Shames Mountain during a lab session for a Hydrology course.