Graduating Okanagan College students walk to their convocation ceremony on a mild Saturday afternoon at the KLO Road campus.
A so-called Golden Day of Service is being promoted by college officials as a way to celebrate the institution's 50th year of operation.
"We want to publicly acknowledge the support our college has received over the past 50 years," president Jim Hamilton said Saturday during a convocation ceremony at the KLO Road campus in Kelowna.
Almost 300 students received their degrees or certificates in programs such as nursing, business, mechanical engineering and computer information systems.
The graduates join the ranks of more than 64,000 other people who have earned various credentials from Okanagan College since its humble origins in 1964.
"I have no doubt that you, like them, will use your newly acquired skills to better yourself, your family and your community," Hamilton told the graduates who gathered inside a sunlit Centre for Learning main building.
Ninety-six students began classes in the fall of 1963 at the college's first campus in Kelowna. Other branches later began inside a church basement in Penticton, at the Vernon Army Cadet grounds in Vernon and in portable trailers in Salmon Arm.
Through the decades, students and staff at the college have benefited from considerable sums of public funding, college board of governors chairman Tom Styffe reminded the graduates.
"Every taxpayer of this province contributed to the opportunities you have been offered," Styffe said, taking up Hamilton's theme and encouraging current and former students, faculty and support staff to participate in the Golden Day of Service to the community.
David Brodie, who graduated with a bachelor of business administration degree, gave the student's address, in which he recalled his trepidation at beginning his studies four years ago after being away from school for a decade.
"I was so nervous going to that first class," Brodie recalled, but then he noticed a number of other mature students in the classroom. "At that point, I felt at ease."