Graduates from UNBC's Northwest Campus look to uplift community

Group of students wearing black academic regalia pose for phtos
A light rain did not dampen spirits as the Class of 2024 from UNBC's Northwest campus gathered for a graduation celebration.
Student wearing black academic robe with yellow striped hood poses holding framed parchment.

Terrace, B.C. – Living and learning in her home community of Terrace has empowered Rebecca Houle with the skills and confidence to become a leader in her community.

Since she was young, Houle has known she wanted to pursue a career in the healthcare field. She says UNBC’s Bachelor of Social Work program provided an excellent launchpad to take her earlier learning in the Healthcare Assistant program at Coast Mountain College and her experience as a support worker for adults with cognitive and physical disabilities to the next level.

As she delivered the class address for the 2024 cohort during a graduation celebration at the R.E.M. Lee Theare in Terrace on Monday, Houle has already transitioned into a full-time position as the Adult Day Treatment Program Clinician with Northern Health in Terrace. 

“I have been in this role for a few weeks now and I love going to work, supporting those in their time of need and seeing those within my community regain confidence in themselves to live their best lives,” she says. “Not only did obtaining my degree give me the knowledge and skills to become a professional social worker – from counselling techniques to social work ethics and critical thinking – but I like the person I have become after attending UNBC. I have gained self-confidence in presenting, gained independence and gained more responsibility for not only myself, but for others.”

Houle credits financial support from Métis Nation British Columbia for tuition and books with helping to turn her educational goals into a reality and is thankful for the continued support from UNBC’s faculty, professors and her classmates as she enters the work world.

“UNBC does an amazing job of accepting everyone for who they are and meeting them where they are at to best support them along their educational journey,” she says. “I came into this program knowing the cohort would be smaller in size, but even though we were small, we were mighty - I gained a degree in my dream profession, but I also gained friends for life.”

Houle was one of 28 students crossing the stage as part of the University’s Northwest campus graduation event. Five students graduated with their Bachelor of Social Work degrees, 19 students received their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees and four students earned Certificates in General First Nations Studies.

Person in black robe with orange stripe on hood stands in front of tree.

Khaleel Javed spoke on behalf of the graduates from the UNBC’s Northern Collaborative Baccalaureate Nursing Program (NCBNP) that sees the students do the first two years of their program at Coast Mountain College, followed by the final two years the University’s Northwest campus.

“I chose the UNBC Nursing program not only for its reputation of producing highly skilled nurses, but also nurses who are highly aware of socio-political factors that are informing nursing practices and healthcare systems,” says Javed, who moved from his home in Surrey, B.C. to attend the NCBNP. “UNBC’s commitment to community engagement and gearing our nursing education towards serving rural and underserved communities resonates with my personal values that are informing my own nursing practice.”

He says the small class sizes and the accessibility of instructors and support staff were a highlight of the program. In addition, Javed says the clinical placements with Northern Health across the region exposed students to a wide range of diverse learning experiences.

“By providing extensive hands-on experience and theoretical knowledge, I have acquired the ability to navigate diverse and complex healthcare situations with competence and confidence,” says the new nursing graduate.

The child of immigrant parents, Javed says, “The completion of my degree not only validates their struggles, but also opens the door to opportunities that were once unobtainable. This empowers me to make a meaningful impact through my educational journey and future career.”

Javed has accepted a job in the emergency department at St. Paul’s hospital, with a long-term goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner to serve his local community with a focus on improving the accessibility of healthcare for marginalized populations.

As he congratulated the graduates of the Class of 2024, he reminded them to work to uplift their communities and be passionate advocates for vulnerable populations.