The Rigoni Family

Sally Rigoni is a retired nurse who lives in Kitimat. A supporter of UNBC from the start, Sally went on to earn a master’s degree in community health through the Terrace campus, something she wouldn’t have done if the education hadn’t been available so close to home.

“When this master’s program was offered, I thought that was really neat. I had enjoyed my undergrad so I signed up. I thought I didn’t know if I’d finish it or not, but I’ll start it,” she says. “I met a lot of other people in other disciplines, because it wasn’t just nurses doing this Masters in Community Health. It was really interesting and enlightening. I enjoyed it very much.”

Chris and Sally Rigoni

In the 1980s many young people left Kitimat after high school for university in the Lower Mainland or out of province. With all the recent economic activity in Kitimat, more young people are returning to work in the town and many of them are UNBC alumni, according to Sally.

“I see a lot of young people, some even on our street here, who have gone to UNBC, got their degrees, and are back working here now,” she says. “Kitimat is booming right now, there’s lot of job opportunities.”

Sally’s husband Chris had a hand in creating the university Sally ended up attending. In the late 1980s he signed a petition calling for the creation of UNBC at the mall in Kitimat. There was some pessimism about the idea at the time. People thought it wasn’t possible.

“There were naysayers who believed it was never going to happen,” says Chris. “The government this or the government that, but if we didn’t do anything, it really was never going to happen.”

Chris agrees with Sally that UNBC is helping encourage more young people to remain in the North after graduation. The benefit his contribution made to his family and community make him proud to have been a UNBC supporter when the idea seemed like an impossible goal. 

“People who graduate through UNBC look like they stay more local, it looks like they stay more in the North,” he says. “That’s the feeling I have, whereas if they go to the big cities, they make friends and look for jobs down there when they graduate. If they graduate here I think they look for lives in the North.”

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