“I was late, I was really late,” BCIT alumna Michelle Dragon recalls as she and Adrian Duke prepared to present their speeches at the first Honouring our Leaders, BCIT Indigenous graduation celebration. “We went over what we were going to talk about. I was like, I think I got it!”
Despite the confidence he exuded at the event, Adrian says he had a nervous tick and started mixing up Michelle’s cue cards: “I completely rearranged all of her notes!”
With her cue cards jumbled, Michelle struggled to stay on track but Adrian was quick to jump to her side to help her through.
Impressed by his poise, Michelle became intrigued: “During the convocation, I grew some feelings for him, especially seeing him and how confident he was presenting.”
Up to this point, Michelle, who is Cree from the Fort McMurray band in Alberta, had heard about Adrian when she started visiting the BCIT Indigenous Gathering Place. At that time, she was in a relationship and did not give him much thought but was told that Adrian, who is Anishinaabe from the Muscowpetung First Nation in southern Saskatchewan, was a part-time Student Advisor for the Indigenous Gathering Place.
After the unexpected cue-card incident, the rest is history. After Cupid struck Michelle and Adrian nearly a decade ago, they started to hang out and build a friendship, which ultimately led to dating.
They have enjoyed a rewarding and adventurous relationship ever since. Now engaged, they live in West Kelowna, BC with their two beautiful children and look forward to having their wedding celebration in August 2022.
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A passion for BCIT’s hands-on educational offerings
Adrian graduated in 2009 with a Marketing Management diploma. He says BCIT and his program had a transformative effect: “It was a life changing experience for me. [I got] to meet a lot of people I am still friends with, besides my fiancée…but the thing that really stood out for me was that you are pushed out of your comfort zone.”
Today, Adrian is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of his own company, Immersive Tech, which designs, engineers, and builds custom technology-driven experiences such as virtual reality. He proudly shares that the company is now a publicly traded stock.
As Adrian was finishing his program, Michelle entered into the BCIT Human Resource Management Diploma program. She knew well before applying and attending BCIT that working in the field of human resources was her calling. Once enrolled, the course changed her life and prepared Michelle for her now successful career in the industry.
“It [BCIT] really tests you, so you are ready to hit the ground running when you graduate,” she says. “You are ready to start a job, you have the skills to understand how to work in a fast-paced work environment.”
Michelle now works extensively with different Indigenous-driven companies and initiatives from all over British Columbia. Currently, she is a Human Resources Generalist at Westbank First Nation. She finds happiness in working with Indigenous communities whenever possible.
Congratulations to Adrian and Michelle. They remind us that helping one another—whether during a speech at an event or as leaders in the Indigenous community—is truly the key to happiness.
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