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Student Spotlight

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.

Tammy Gray

Tammy Gray lost her hearing when she was one year old as a result of a childhood illness. Her parents moved from Vancouver to Kitimat when she was young where she met another hard of hearing boy at daycare and was encouraged to learn sign but it was difficult as her parents had a difficult time learning sign language. At the age of ten she moved back to Vancouver to attend the BC School of Deaf Education. There she met friends who were also hearing impaired and happily learned sign language. While she was at school she was better able to understand her Nisga’a heritage and was proud to learn she is from the killer whale clan and her family originates in Greenville.

At seventeen Tammy moved to Victoria for high-school as she needed extra support, particularly with English. She recalls her frustration and challenges with grammar and lack of personal support.  She was depressed, embarrassed and felt hopeless but in adulthood has persevered and is taking English and Math as part of the Career & College Prep program at NWCC. She has made new friends and has a new found confidence in knowing other people need a little extra help too. 

Tammy is working on a children’s book that will feature her three adult children and younger daughter who are all fluent in sign language. The story will focus on her family.  She also plans to do another children’s book about her success as a swimmer in her teens.  She won 9 gold medals and it is fitting that her Nisga’a name is “gwii hadixim hlbin” which means “a whale who swims a lot”.    

Tammy had enrolled in Applied Business Technology ten years ago and upgraded then and now has ambition to establish herself in some kind of career, potentially small business. She writes, “what an amazing life!  Education is FUN…”