NIC prepared me for today’s world, says NIC alumnus

NIC alumni Billy Strachan enjoys life in Kamloops, where he works as a Power Line Technician for BC Hydro.

NIC alumnus Billy Strachan’s experience helped to kindle a love of learning that has enabled him to explore a variety of different career and educational paths.

Strachan completed two Associate of Arts degrees at NIC, one in sociology and one in anthropology.

“My experience at NIC was different than anywhere I’d studied previously,” said Strachan. “One of the greatest benefits at NIC was the small class sizes. This meant I could build relationships with the instructors. It felt natural that students were pulling education towards them as opposed to it being imposed onto them.”

His experience at NIC allowed Strachan to see that taking education was not solely about working towards a job.

“NIC allowed for self-directed learning, where I could have the flexibility to explore topics that were of real interest to me and also build relationships with people who could expand my way of thinking. I think that is crucial for today’s world,” said Strachan.

For Strachan, those life skills have become important in dealing with life’s challenges.

“What NIC provided for me is larger in scope than just job prep. My experience prepared me for this time in history. It was an opportunity to try on different perspectives and evaluate information before coming to conclusions. I learned to be open to debate and welcome discussion,” explained Strachan.

After completing his studies at NIC, Strachan went on to complete his Bachelor of Social Science with Honours in Conflict Studies and Human Rights at the University of Ottawa. He also became a District Rotary Ambassador Scholar, which allowed him to take his graduate degree in Business Administration at the University of South Pacific in Suva, Fiji.

He has enjoyed a variety of careers as well since graduating from NIC: he has been a wildfire fighter, a pipefitting apprentice in the oil and gas industry, and an emergency police call-taker for E-Comm 911.

Strachan is now working as an apprentice Power Line Technician for BC Hydro in Kamloops. While he works towards completing his apprenticeship, Strachan also practices French and Arabic language skills, and is taking a course to learn to become a freelance writer.

“A linear path in order to get a job just isn’t what I’m about. The world is so fascinating. I pursue education to learn about the world. Being born in Canada with so much privilege, I don’t want to waste that. I want life to be interesting,” explained Strachan.

While at NIC, Strachan became well known for his engagement outside of his classes. He organized a number of events for the NIC community, the most notable events were a special panel on the International Day for Racial Discrimination and a fundraiser for the Stephen Lewis Foundation which supports work in Africa focused on helping people living with HIV and AIDS. His experience at NIC is one that he wants to encourage other students to experience. “There are so many ways to get involved. You have ideas? Go and talk to someone about them. I was able to organize so many different initiatives because people at NIC are open and willing to help students.”

After his time at NIC, and reflecting on what it has meant for him as an individual, Strachan is excited to watch what students at NIC achieve.

“Use NIC as a springboard, and don’t feel limited as to what that could possibly mean. You are your only limiting factor. You can leverage the flexibility of NIC to tailor it to what is going to serve you and what interests you. Education is not just about being directly linked to any vocation. It’s about becoming a contributing member of society,” said Strachan.

NIC offers a variety of courses to develop critical thinking skills and explore the world. NIC’s educational advisors are available to help you create a custom study plan to reach your goals.

Applications are open now for NIC’s Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees, starting in January.

For more information, or to apply, visit  

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