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Selkirk College Recognizes Outstanding Contributors to Post-Secondary Education

Bob Hall
By Bob Hall
December 20th, 2021

Success for post-secondary students requires a foundation that is vast in both support and inspiration. Six individuals who add heft to the Selkirk College community of learning have been selected as recipients of Board of Governors Awards for 2020-2021.

Recognizing contributions through its annual awards for Distinguished Alumni, Distinguished Educator and Honorary Diploma, Selkirk College has added Kathleen Pinckney, Mike Martin, Katrine Conroy, Lawney Reyes, Dan Obradovic and Jennifer Martin to a list of exceptional people who have made a difference in higher education.

“The strength of Selkirk College is the people who contribute on a daily basis to making sure learners reach the outcomes they desire and that happens in a variety of ways,” says Selkirk College Board of Governors Chair Scott Weatherford. “These awards are important because they honour the legacy of regional post-secondary contributors and provide gratitude to those who have made a difference.”

Awarded the Distinguished Educator for 2020, Kathleen Pinckney’s regional post-secondary legacy shines bright almost two decades after her retirement.

A registered nurse for more than four decades, she spent a career at Selkirk College that spanned 30-plus years where innovative leadership helped create significant change in community health care. In a long list of achievements under Pinckney’s direction, Selkirk College was successful in attaining degree completion status for the Nursing Program in collaboration with the University of Victoria.

Regarded as a leader in the discipline of nursing education provincially and nationally, her passion for excellence continues to echo amongst all the students and faculty she helped guide.

Elected five times as the MLA for Kootenay West, 2020 Distinguished Alumna recipient Katrine Conroy’s educational foundation began at Selkirk College after graduating from Castlegar’s Stanley Humphries Secondary School in 1975.

The current Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources & Rural Development, Conroy was amongst the first cohort to graduate from the Early Childhood Care & Education Program (ECCE) in 1979 where she immediately began winning the hearts of children and enhancing quality care in the region.

Prior to entering politics, Conroy also returned to Selkirk College as a part-time instructor in the ECCE Program. As she continues to make a deep impact on the lives of British Columbians across the province, she is an example of Selkirk College’s value of excellence in living form.

A recipient of the 2020 Honorary Diploma in Liberal Arts & Sciences, Mike Martin had an incredible 40-year career at Teck Trail Operations that culminated with him taking the facility through significant industry change and performance improvements as general manager. Upon his retirement in 2014, Martin was elected mayor of Trail where he channeled his already impressive list of community involvement into even more tangible outcomes. A steady supporter of Selkirk College, his leadership and advocacy helped post-secondary prosper in the region.

“It’s hard to imagine our region today without the work of these three remarkable contributors,” says Selkirk College President Angus Graeme.

“For decades Kathleen, Katrine and Mike have been community builders that have channeled their passion into real change and progress. From health care to industry to supporting young families, their legacy is cemented in the history of both the college and the region.”

Dan Obradovic began his Selkirk College career in 1991 as an Electrical Program instructor and by the time the 2021 Distinguished Educator retired in 2014 he had taken trades training at the Silver King Campus to a new level. Well respected by students and colleagues, Obradovic demonstrated his passion for lifelong learning by earning a Master of Education degree while teaching in the shops of the Nelson-based campus.

Serving two terms as chair for the School of Industry & Trades Training from 2008 to 2014, his leadership continually advanced both quality teaching and the equipment required for leaners to pursue exciting careers.

The 2021 Distinguished Alumna, Jennie Martin graduated from the Selkirk College Forest Technology Program in 1996. After starting her career working for a private land owner in the Castlegar area, she moved north to Quesnel to begin working for the Provincial Government.

Striking a balance as a single mom with three children close in age, Martin’s leadership in enforcement of environmental law and regulations is respected throughout the sector. Currently the Provincial Training & Development Manager in Dawson Creek, she continues to challenge the status quo knowing there are always better ways to accomplish goals in the forest industry.

Presented the 2021 Honorary Diploma in Indigenous Studies, Lawney Reyes has a deep connection to the history and land of the Selkirk College region. A Sin Aikst (Sn̓ʕay̓čkstx) artist, architect, sculptor and author who grew up in a Colville Confederated Tribes community in Washington State, Reyes has helped educate Selkirk College students and staff about the ancestral lands of the Sinixt people.

Part of the extended Christian family that lived at kp’itl’els, Reyes traces his roots back to the traditional Sinixt settlement at the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay rivers where the Castlegar Campus now sits.

“Lifelong learning is at the foundation of Selkirk College and these three inspiring individuals help embody that spirit for themselves and others,” says Graeme. “Our post-secondary community extends across the province and across borders, we are grateful to them for their important contributions both past and present.”     

An important component of the annual convocation ceremony each spring, Selkirk College will officially recognize all six Board of Governors award recipients at the planned 2022 in-person graduation event at the Castlegar Campus in the spring.

Photo Caption: Dan Obradovic started his career at Selkirk College in 1991 as an Electrical Instructor and ended it as chair of the School of Industry & Trades Training in 2014. He is seen here (left) at the 50th birthday of the Silver King Campus in 2014 helping cut the cake with other members of the Selkirk College leadership team. — Submitted 

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