College Beat: Applied learning prepares Red Deer College graduates for future success

The foundation of RDC’s success comes from our passion for teaching and learning. But student learning doesn’t just happen in classrooms. Our partnerships with our communities, organizations and businesses allow us to offer practical, applied learning and research experiences that enable students to apply what they learn to real-world problems.

I would like to share two examples that demonstrate how powerful applied learning can be. The first relates to an applied research project that happened this year. This collaboration included two RDC Psychology instructors, Dr. Greg Wells and Dr. Jamie Prowse-Turner, and the Early Onset Dementia Alberta Foundation.

RDC fourth-year Psychology student, Rozalyn Vickery, conducted a year-long study investigating family caregivers of people with early onset dementia and the challenges they face. Under the guidance of her instructors, she designed and conducted the research and travelled across Alberta to interview families. Her findings will help the Early Onset Dementia Alberta Foundation in their ongoing advocacy for effective and appropriate care for dementia patients in communities.

The second example is the Occupational and Physical Therapist Assistant Program, located in the Bethany CollegeSide long-term care facility. Program Chair Candi Raudebaugh and her colleagues and students collaborate with Bethany Care staff in some powerful ways.

RDC students complete practicum placements at Bethany CollegeSide and Bethany Sylvan Lake. While there, they undertake projects and activities with residents of the facilities. Offering opportunities in a long-term care setting is unique, and our students benefit from the real-world learning this provides. Residents and students are often seen chatting with each other in the halls, talking about how each are benefiting from these powerful connections.

RDC prides itself in providing quality, practical education that is relevant to our learners and the communities we serve. As we develop programs for our future they must, and will, connect to the needs of our communities and local businesses, and they will be practical in their application and focus. The next evolution of post-secondary education must ensure practical and applied learning that leads to success in the jobs of today and the jobs of tomorrow.

On June 2, we will celebrate RDC’s 53rd Convocation. For the graduates who will transition into the workforce, Convocation day represents an incredible milestone. Each year, 90 per cent of our graduates find employment within six months of finishing their program of study. As an institution, we are incredibly proud of that number. Our graduates are ready to become the next generation of leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs, and their stories, and their achievements are ready to be written. Our future is in good hands.

RDC continues to grow and evolve, to build on our strengths and to work with business, social agencies and Indigenous populations to create strong, vibrant communities in which people will want to work, play, innovate and live.

Joel Ward is president and CEO of Red Deer College.

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