Like a good wine, Red River College gets better with age.
Manitoba’s only polytechnic celebrated its 75th anniversary Wed., Oct. 10, with a cake-cutting ceremony at its Notre Dame Campus.
In 1938, the college (then the Industrial Vocational Education Centre) offered evening courses in carpentry, sheet metal and needle trades. Now, RRC boasts more than 200 full-time and part-time programs, more than 30,000 enrolments annually and over 2,300 employees.
"I think what’s really been the key to our success is the people that work here," says Stephanie Forsyth, RRC president and CEO.
"Many of them have come from business and industry, so they know what they’re
talking about when they’re in the classrooms.
"We know students are the reason for our existence and we try to keep that first and foremost in our minds, ‘How can we make a difference in the life of everybody who comes to school here?’"
Forsyth says the strength of RRC and its nine campuses is not only the types of programs it offers, but the way it delivers them.
"It’s applied, it’s experiential, it’s hands-on and all of our programs have very close linkages with industry, business and community organizations. As a result of that, when our graduates leave this college, they hit the ground running," Forsyth says.
RRC Students’ Association president Jocelle Cuvos says she decided to attend the college because of its focus on applied learning.
"Coming from Tech Voc, I wanted that applied hands-on kind of learning and I knew that this school was for me," she says. "I came to Red River College to study business
administration, in hopes to eventually start up my own photography studio. Photography is something I studied in high school, so that was my goal."
Cuvos, 21, says RRC has provided her with the tools required to realize her goal, although she’s now shifted her focus to managing an already existing company.
In her speech, Cuvos also noted the college’s commitment to fostering friendships and student life.
"I started out as an ordinary student in the Business Administration program, and then I went to a kegger. I realized what a joy it was to get involved in student life at RRC," Cuvos said, going on to note her extracurricular involvement with RRC in sports, as a peer tutor and as an RRC ambassador.
Looking to the next 75 years, Forsyth says RRC is committed to meeting the provincial government’s target of adding 75,000 workers to Manitoba’s labour force by 2020.
She says the future of the college is always its chief concern, but it’s also important to celebrate how far RRC has come.
"We all tend to be so busy in life that we forget to take a second and reflect on what we have done extraordinarily well, and also what we haven’t done so well and need to build on. How can we take those lessons into the future? That’s what (the celebration) is all about."