When Sophia Traber was searching for a university to attend, she didn’t have to look too far.
The University of Northern British Columbia South-Central campus in Quesnel checked all of her boxes.
Close to home. Check.
Fantastic people. Check.
Great instructors. Check.
Small class sizes. Check.
Turns out, everything she needed was right in her hometown where she was born and raised.
“I decided to enroll at UNBC South-Central in Quesnel because it’s close to home first of all. It’s a small program, and you get more one-to-one with your instructors,” she said. “It’s a very well-known accredited university… I heard a lot of great things from previous students.”
Traber graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree on June 6 as UNBC’s South-Central campus held its regional graduation celebration.
Selected as the class speaker, she was one of 20 Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates and one of 44 graduates who crossed the stage.
Traber says she has a lot of memories about her four years as an undergraduate student.
“What I will remember about my time here at UNBC is my instructors and preceptors who have been role models for me to become the best nurse I can be,” she said. “The students I have met along the way. The friends I’ve made. And just being a university student overall. Sometimes it’s nice to get together with your study buddies and do some studying.”
Within days of graduating, Traber began her career as a nurse at the Red Deer Regional Hospital in Alberta on June 10 on the surgical orthopedic and urology unit. From there, she’ll write her national exams that all Registered Nurses across Canada and the United States have to write in order to work as an RN.
“I’m a little bit nervous but I think it will be good for me,” she says. “A good challenge.”
In addition to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and eight First Nations Language Diploma – Tsilhqot’in graduates, 12 students earned their Bachelor of Social Work degrees.
Among them was Bobbie-Jo Macnair from Williams Lake.
She too, chose UNBC South-Central because it was close to her hometown, only a one-hour drive north.
“I chose UNBC South-Central because it had a schedule that worked with my career,” Macnair said, adding she was already working for a social services agency at the time. “I could stay in my home community and still finish my degree.”
With a set of new credentials behind her name, Macnair switched jobs when she completed her degree.
I’m now a social worker at an Aboriginal agency in Williams Lake,” she said. “There are a lot of Indigenous communities surrounding Williams Lake so I’m excited to be a part of that work.”
Sheila Gilpin was selected as the class speaker for the eight First Nations Language Diploma - Tsilhqot’in graduates.
She encouraged her classmates to continue to revitalize and preserve the language among rich traditions and their proud history.
“Our grad class shows how strong and hard we have worked to ensure to continue grow language keepers,” Gilpin told the audience during the ceremony. “We will pass our language to future generations and ensure the Tsilhqot’in language, culture and traditions remain deep-rooted in our communities.”
She said graduating was a stepping-stone and accomplishment that meant sacrifices for many of her classmates. It meant spending most of their weekends trying to figure out how they’d get all their homework completed before the next class.
“But, with these sacrifices, there’s always triumph and excitement,” she said. “Today we get to celebrate the success of graduating.
“We are the teachers now. And the teachers that will lead our future for our Nation. We are proud of this.”