BCIT recognizes International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrates the economic, cultural, social, and political achievements of women. On this day and every day of the year, it’s also important to raise awareness about women’s equality and take actions to help create an inclusive and gender equal world.

This year’s IWD theme is #ChooseToChallenge and we will focus on acknowledging the accomplishments of the women of BCIT—our BCIT alumni, faculty, and staff—and gaining perspective into the industry from their point of view.

According to International Women’s Day, “a challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions, all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.”

Be brave to make changes

Phyllis Chong
Phyllis Chong Engineering instructor

Phyllis Chong is an instructor and Interim Admissions Coordinator for the Civil Engineering Department. As she teaches multiple courses, Phyllis is also the faculty advisor for the BCIT Women in Engineering student group. Her love for science led her to pursue a career as a bridge engineer. Phyllis enjoys being a teacher now as this allows her to continue working in a field she loves while also advancing her passion for communications and working with people.

“Many sectors of engineering still lack diversity. It is a challenge but also very rewarding to swim against the current at times and earn deserved recognition and achievements,” explains Phyllis.

When asked about her advice to a student entering the engineering field, she suggests, “Work hard, always act professionally, build many relationships, but most of all, be flexible, and be brave to make changes.”

Dedicate yourself to lifelong learning

Chelsea Barron
Chelsea Barron BCIT Machinist alumna and instructor

Chelsea Barron is a BCIT Machinist alumna and currently a Machinist Instructor, where she continues her love for exploring the creativity and diversity of the machinist trade.

While being a young woman in a male-dominated trade can definitely has its challenges, Chelsea shares, “After pushing myself out of my comfort zone and choosing to not let anything get in the way of building the life I wanted, everything began to fall into place.”

Having built a successful career in the trades, Chelsea encourages students to keep striving: “Always chase after your dreams, and do not let other people’s opinions of what you can and cannot do get in the way. Dedicate yourself to lifelong learning, to ask questions, and to being open-minded in a fast-paced, growing industry.”

Individual actions play an important role in changing course

Dr. Jennie Moore is the Director of BCIT Institute Sustainability at BCIT. Jennie decided to commit herself to sourcing ecological solutions in response to the struggles facing humanity and our planet.

Jennie Moore
Dr Jennie Moore Director Institute Sustainability

“The predominant challenge is helping people understand that the issues we face with regard to global ecological ecosystem degradation (this includes climate change among a list of many others) are real,” shares Jennie. “Individual actions play an important role in changing course. If and when those actions role-up into systematic structural changes, the way technological innovations are deployed, and how trade agreements enable or disable state actors from being proactive leaders towards a just transition that supports everyone to benefit from accessing the ecological and social resources needed to live a dignified life.”

For those considering a career in the field of sustainability, Jennie urges them to understand the big picture first before diving in with solutions.

“Learn to use words by their original definition, and not in terms of how society has adapted them. Knowledge about how Earth’s systems work is a prerequisite to operating the global human enterprise in a sustainable way, as a sub-system that is wholly dependent on Earth’s ecosystems. Learn about how and why our global economic system favours short-term financial and social gains that do not fully account for cumulative long-term social and ecological costs, and you will be well on your way to becoming an effective sustainability practitioner.”

Take risks, don’t fear failure

Lara Johnson Vice President Marketing and Communications

Lara Johnson is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for BCIT. With her love for studying consumers, her career has focused on building brand affinity across many sectors.

Like many new graduates, she struggled to break into the advertising industry to find her first job.

“My first job in advertising was an internship in Columbus, Ohio. After graduating from university and blanketing advertising agencies with my resume, I was disappointed to not get the response I was looking for,” shares Lara. “Yes, this was when you actually mailed paper cover letters and resumes, and waited for a call for an interview, or a rejection letter. My phone didn’t ring, and I received few rejection letters in the mail.”

But that didn’t stop Lara from pursuing a career in advertising.

“Finally, after receiving one such rejection letter from an agency’s VP of HR with an extra handwritten note on the corner, ‘looking for something for you’, I decided to write back to thank her for her thoughtfulness. After receiving my thank-you letter, Lenere Shrieves called me up for an interview for an internship,” adds Lara. “I’ll never forget the warmth and generosity of spirit that Lenere displayed, and I’ll never forget her famous saying: ‘hang in there’—a saying I still use today, and a rejection letter I’ll never throw out. I’ll always be grateful to Lenere for giving me a chance. Sometimes ‘no’ is just a starting point. Grit and resilience are key.”

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Women make a positive impact around the world

Read more stories about how BCIT alumnae have became part of a powerful community of successful innovators, creators, and leaders who are making a positive impact in industries around the world.

  • Amanda Gomes, Project Manager, Omicron, and BCIT Civil Engineering alumna
    • Challenges paved the path to success for Amanda. As an immigrant woman in a traditionally male-dominated field, she emphasizes the importance of a diverse and inclusive representation in the industry.
  • Michelle Wan, Software Engineer, Elastic Path, and BCIT Computer Systems Technology alumna
    • Michelle created an innovative and revolutionary Alexa-app that has the potential to support nurses in quickly retrieving patient medical information.
  • Orene Askew, DJ and Squamish Nation Councillor, and BCIT Radio Arts and Entertainment alumna
    • Orene Askew is an advocate for progress and inclusivity. Her work demonstrates that change is possible.
  • Sarah Bell, COO, BC Children’s Hospital, and BCIT Nursing alumna
    • Sarah is a fourth-generation nurse in her family. As Chief Operating Officer of BC Children’s Hospital and a Campaign Cabinet member of the BCIT INSPIRE Campaign, she’s been instrumental in advancing health care in Canada.
  • Savannah Minoose-Erasmus, Project Coordinator with PHSA Indigenous Youth Wellness Team, and Broadcast and Online Journalism diploma alumna
    • Savannah’s work is more than just a job to her. It’s an opportunity for her to make a difference and she’s using it to amplify Indigenous voices and stories.

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