SPOTLIGHT - NIC students thrive in Campbell River

Mike McLean moved to Campbell River in 2013 with his family for NIC’s Industrial Automation program and received two local job offers.

North Island College has been supporting Campbell River’s economy, helping local residents thrive and attracting students to the community since it opened its doors in 1975.

The college began from a small office behind the Campbell River School Board offices. It then grew to Elm Street and eventually, in 1997 local demand created need for a dedicated trades facility and a 16,440 square foot campus built in partnership with Timberline High School.

“Providing support for local industry was one of the biggest things we did in the 1990s,” said Bruce Meldrum, who spent a decade leading NIC’s Applied Health, Technical and Trades division in Campbell River. “The opportunity for students to update or learn new skills and get apprenticeships with local companies was significant.”

In 2008, Tom Hill was one of 230 TimberWest workers laid off from the Campbell River mill.

At 45, the single dad was faced with looking for work out of province, or trying to find another job in Campbell River.

“This community is so important in our lives,” he said. “It wasn’t an option for us to leave.”

The day he heard about the pending closure he drove straight to NIC on his way home from work.

“I didn’t even know what door to go in,” he said. “I just knew I didn’t want to be chasing work around the country for the rest of my life.”

After reviewing options with an educational advisor, he decided practical nursing held the best career prospects.

“A lot of people told me, ‘I can’t afford to go back to school’ but the way I look at it, I can’t afford not to,” he said.

His hard work paid off. Nearly 10 years later, he is still working full time on the medical floor of the Campbell River hospital.

In 2013, Mike McLean arrived in Campbell River from BC’s interior to study industrial automation. Like many of his classmates, he graduated with job offers in Campbell River, Nanaimo and Alberta, but chose to stay in Campbell River.

“This program gave me the opportunity to develop my interests and find a career in my field,” he said before graduating in 2015. “I already have two job offers to choose from in Campbell River.”

As a lifetime North Island resident, Kelsey Anglin took part in two international exchange trips as part of her Bachelor of Business Administration degree and came back to support her community.

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