James Coble has become the first Westbank First Nation member to earn a doctoral degree.
Coble recently walked across a stage at the University of Calgary to accept his doctor of education degree in front of a jam-packed crowd.
Coble, who is currently director of student services at Okanagan College, said his two kids were his inspiration to finish the degree.
“For me, it was the completion of a seven-year journey,” said Coble.
“At the end, as I did at every stage, I reminded myself that my kids were always at the top of the list of reasons why I was doing this.”
One proud attendee also at the ceremony was WFN Chief Chris Derickson, who said Coble will now continue to serve as a mentor to the community.
“You would be hard pressed to find a more dedicated educator and advocate for students pursuing their higher education goals than James,” said Derickson.
“Both the WFN Community and Okanagan College benefits from his leadership. We are extremely proud of James’ accomplishments.”
During Coble’s doctoral research, he brought Indigenous students together to talk about their own experiences through photography and group dialogue.
As Coble’s research went on, the conversations between students helped to raise many community issues and concerns.
“I’ve always been interested in Aboriginal student experiences and when I came across this method in emerging research circles, I thought it would be the perfect means of enabling students to take charge in telling their stories as authentically as possible,” said Coble.
“Storytelling is ingrained in Indigenous cultures across the land, so it made sense to me to empower students to think about and share their experiences through stories.”
Prior to finishing his doctorate, Coble earned bachelor’s of education and master’s in exercise psychology degrees from the University of Victoria.