Gervais is the third ever NIC student to become a Ch’nook Scholar. Photo supplied.

NIC business student named Ch’nook Scholar

After a successful career in dance, Jessie Gervais has his sights on international relations

A second-year student at North Island College has been recognized as one of B.C.’s top Aboriginal business students.

Jessie Gervais recently became the third ever NIC student to be named as a Ch’nook Scholar.

“Jessie’s intelligence and focus make him a wonderful ambassador for NIC and we are so pleased to see him receive this recognition as a Ch’nook Scholar,” said Diane Naugler, NIC’s dean of business and applied studies.

The accomplished student has danced across stages in Canada, Spain, and Mexico as a ballet performer. He began his business studies at NIC last year, determined to embark on a career in international relations.

The Ch’nook Scholar program at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business fosters leadership skills and business knowledge in Aboriginal business students. It acknowledges leadership excellence as well as students’ academic and personal achievements.

The program includes a $2,000 scholarship, opportunities to attend conferences and meet industry leaders, and professional services such as business cards and photographs. It’s also a chance to connect with other students of First Nations heritage.

“It was really interesting to meet all these other students who came from different backgrounds,” said Gervais, who is Métis and has Cree grandparents.

“Some of them had grown up on reserve and others in cities. But it was encouraging to discover we all shared those same values, like protecting our environment and improving the lives of Indigenous people.”

Gervais grew up hunting and fishing with his grandfather in Prince George. He moved to Vancouver Island when he was 10, finished high school early and began training at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

He later moved to Spain to dance professionally, followed by a four-year stint at Compaña Nacional de Danza de México and then two years at Ballet Victoria.

Gervais next decided to focus on business studies, completing his first year at NIC online. Now in his second year, Gervais is working through more than a dozen business, math and language courses — he is fluent in Spanish and French — and hopes to transfer to UBC to complete his business degree.

As well as supporting his application to the Ch’nook program, studying at NIC allowed him to complete his first-year courses and prerequisites while working, Gervais said.

Naugler said students like Gervais, who return to school after time spent working or following other pursuits, represent a core group of NIC students.

“We see that same drive from so many of our students,” she said. “They come to NIC with valuable life experiences and clear ideas of where they want to go next, and we take great pride in helping them get there.”

For more information on NIC business courses and programs, visit nic.bc.ca/business

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