Kate Camire successfully completed her Medical Office Assistant certificate at Okanagan College in Vernon. (Contributed)

North Okanagan student relearns how to take steps forward

The Vernon Convocation starts at 4:30 p.m. at the Vernon campus, OC Facebook to stream event

After a motor vehicle accident that left her paralyzed and with no memory of who she was, Kate Camire was told that she would never fully recover.

Fast forward 12 years to today where Camire will walk across the stage at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus after successfully completing her Medical Office Assistant certificate.

“I had a traumatic brain injury and was paralyzed on my right side,” said Camire. “I had to relearn my name, how to read, how to spell, how to walk. After two years, I hadn’t improved much and the doctors said it was unlikely that I would make much more progress.”

But with determination, Camire relearned the skills she had lost, and worked hard to improve her memory.

“I graduated from high school that same year and went on to teach parent-tot and preschool gymnastics,” said Camire. “I was walking with a cane at the time, but was able to get around and run if I needed to. After that, I decided I just needed to keep going and that I needed to do something with my life.”

Camire started taking first aid courses and coaching at Douglas College before eventually enrolling in OC’s Medical Office Assistant program (MOA).

“The same day I applied to the College, I had to go in and do a typing test before the program started that evening,” she said. “I live in Sorrento, my typing test was in Salmon Arm and my first class was at the Vernon campus.”

MOA is a 254-hour program that prepares students for employment in reception, clerical, or assisting positions in hospitals and medical offices. The program involves a lot of memorizing, as students learn medical terminology – another challenge that Camire was able to overcome.

“Medical terminology actually became one of my favourite courses,” said Camire. “Our instructor, Mag, was so great. There was always a lot of laughing in the class which made it a fun learning experience.”

“It was a pleasure having Kate in my class,” said Margaret Evans, Continuing Studies Instructor. “Kate has overcome tremendous obstacles. She has such a drive for success and a willingness to help her classmates. I am happy to have had the chance to get to know her.”

Today, Camire celebrates, along with 133 other Vernon students, the end of her program, another hurdle she was able to overcome.

“Today means so much to me. It means I pulled off another success I didn’t think I could. I am absolutely thrilled,” said Camire. “I’ve applied to Interior Health in Kamloops and I hope to be working in a regular clinic soon.”

As the graduates receive their credentials, they will also be addressed by Okanagan College President, Jim Hamilton.

“Regardless of their path, the graduates have one thing in common: they arrived at OC with aspirations about their future,” said Hamilton. “Now, as they cross the stage, we get a glimpse into the future of our society. These are the people that will transform the communities around us.”

By the end of this week, Okanagan College will have sent over 2,000 graduates into the working world this academic year.

The Vernon Convocation starts at 4:30 p.m. at the Vernon campus. Those who cannot make the ceremony can watch the graduates receive their credentials on OC’s Facebook live stream.

Related: Future business leaders find their stride at Okanagan College

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