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Education just got easier for armed forces personnel in Comox Valley

NORTH ISLAND COLLEGE’S Lisa Domae, front right, signs an agreement. Clockwise from front left, the University of Manitoba’s Dr. Lori Wallace, 19 Wing’s Officer Cadet Dee Colley, NIC’s Dr. Jan Lindsay, and 19 Wing’s Colonel Jim Benninger and Chief Warrant Officer David Bolster. - Renée Andor
NORTH ISLAND COLLEGE’S Lisa Domae, front right, signs an agreement. Clockwise from front left, the University of Manitoba’s Dr. Lori Wallace, 19 Wing’s Officer Cadet Dee Colley, NIC’s Dr. Jan Lindsay, and 19 Wing’s Colonel Jim Benninger and Chief Warrant Officer David Bolster.
— image credit: Renée Andor

Getting an undergraduate degree just got easier for Canadian Forces members in the Comox Valley.
North Island College and the University of Manitoba announced Thursday a student mobility agreement providing Canadian Forces academic credit for their military rank, courses, and training and guaranteed course transfer to one of Canada’s largest research universities.
The agreement provides more than 1,200 retired, regular and reserve forces at 19 Wing Comox and their families access to university transferrable courses from both institutions. They’ll earn a Bachelor of Arts (General) or Bachelor of Arts (Integrated Studies) degree at the University of Manitoba faster, and their military rank and training counts toward their degree.
"NIC is committed to building our relationship with 19 Wing to provide degree paths required for many Canadian Forces' members to become commissioned officers, to further their education, or train for a second career," said NIC president Dr. Jan Lindsay. "The Comox Valley is very much a military community in so many ways."
In fact, NIC has been working closely with 19 Wing to improve access for Canadian Forces members for several years.
In 2009, former college president Lou Dryden worked closely with then Wing Commander Colonel Fred Bigelow to investigate education opportunities. Lindsay affirmed this commitment when she became president by entrenching it in the college’s 2011-2015 Strategic Plan.
19 Wing and NIC together surveyed 457 members of 19 Wing and their families on their post-secondary needs, resulting in clear direction: military members want degree completion opportunities with the flexibility to accommodate military life on Canada’s West Coast.
This agreement with the University of Manitoba builds important partnerships for students and allows NIC to provide professional development opportunities important to the Canadian Forces.
19 Wing Comox's Colonel Jim Benninger, Wing Commander noted Canadian Forces members often have highly mobile lifestyles and the University of Manitoba's location in central Canada will be an asset to their educational needs.
“I would like to personally thank North Island College for their commitment to ensuring that the men and women in our Canadian Forces receive the widest educational support and opportunities that they deserve,” said Benninger.
Chief Warrant Officer David Bolster added: "The Canadian Forces fully endorses the concept of life-long learning. By taking courses that lead to a diploma or degree, 19 Wing personnel are not only improving themselves but making the Canadian Forces a more effective organization."
Canadian Forces members can also access support from NIC and the University of Manitoba military advisors, who can help students complete Individual Learning Plans, arrange extensions on class assignments, authorize withdrawals, or reimburse tuition.
“Together, North Island College and the University of Manitoba can provide exceptional support to the Canadian Forces,” said Lisa Domae, North Island College’s Vice President of Student and Educational Services and Planning. “Our military advisers ensure students can access knowledgeable, local faculty and staff who understand military life and responsibilities and can support their post-secondary success.”
The University of Manitoba is a leader in providing military support and flexible distance education degrees for the Canadian Forces. Its Military Support Office and recognition of military training and courses are widely recognized throughout the military community.
“We’re delighted to sign this agreement with North Island College. Together we can better serve Canadian Forces nationwide,” said Dr. Lori Wallace, the University of Manitoba’s Dean of Extended Education.
Second Lieutenant Kris Kaehler, a NIC alumni now completing his degree at the University of Manitoba, said the agreement offers unique opportunities for fellow officers.
“Some people prefer to take classes with an instructor in-person. Now they have the option to take face-to-face classes and get academic credit for their rank,” said Kaehler.
Corporal Russell Green, an aviation technician at 19 Wing, is currently enrolled at NIC as he wants a career change after almost 26 years as a Canadian Forces member.
He is taking business administration courses but is unsure which new career path he will explore — and he was pleased to hear his opportunities just opened up even more.
"It means that I have more options," said Green with a smile. "More options are always better."
For more information, or to register for courses and programs, visit www.nic.bc.ca/uofm or contact NIC’s military student advisor at 250-334-5000 or military@nic.bc.ca.

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