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.

Vernon’s Bree Cawley was honoured with 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.”

Christina Fast is the recipient of 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 Kamloops’ 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 (IAHCSMM) 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 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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Vernon man arrested after reports of assaults on Kal Lake Rotary Pier

RCMP officers successful in taking man into custody after takedown on railway trestle

Lake Country UBCO grad wins top honours

Teagan MacDougall is the 2020 recipient of the Pushor Mitchell LLP Gold Medal Leadership Prize and $10K

Vernon man arrested after reports of assaults on Kal Lake Rotary Pier

RCMP officers successful in taking man into custody after takedown on railway trestle

Community Champion: no greater gift than giving, Lisa Kurulok says

July 2020 Community Champion volunteers in several organizations throughout North Okanagan

Milestone RCMP Cops For Kids fundraiser ride going virtual

You can join and help RCMP raise funds for families and possibly win 20th anniversary cycling shirt

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

Police issue warning after baby comes across suspected drugs in Kamloops park

The 11-month-old girl’s mother posted photos on social media showing a small plastic bag containing a purple substance

B.C. highway widening job reduced, costs still up $61 million

Union-only project scales back work to widen Trans-Canada

Kamloops man pleads guilty in vehicle-ramming incident that injured a Mountie

Adam Hibbert was arrested following a collision during a police pursuit on May 26, 2019

Collision results in train derailment just east of Golden

The derailment occurred Sunday night, according to a statement from CP

Greater Victoria nanny pleads guilty to child porn, sexual interference charges

Johnathon Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to slew of sex crimes

Victoria man dies after skydiving incident on Vancouver Island

34-year-old had made more than 1,000 jumps

BC Wildfire Service to conduct night vision trials for helicopters in South Okanagan

This technology could assist with future firefighting operations

Most Read