2017 Student Award Recipients

Students selected are in the process of graduating, the financial assistance will enable them start their careers on solid financial ground. More importantly, these awards offer the encouragement they need to continue with their industry aspirations.

For more information, please refer to the awards guideline.

Representing four colleges and three universities from British Columbia, these students were selected because they have what it takes: drive, passion, industry experience and the grades to back it up.

Aaron Wende
Vancouver Island University

With a strong love for food and travel, Aaron is currently enrolled in the Culinary Management program at the Vancouver Island University. He loves working in the kitchen and has demonstrated excellent cooking skills, winning bronze at the provincial level of the Skills BC Competition. Aaron developed his culinary experience around the world, starting as a dishwasher at a local Greek family restaurant, then moving on to a Vietnamese restaurant where he was exposed to new spices and ingredients, to a café in Sydney, Australia, till eventually he ended up at an upscale fine-dining establishment working with talented chefs, learning about plating precision and top-notch customer service. When his working holiday visa was up, he decided to return to Canada to study culinary in earnest, where he has achieved top grades in every section that he has taken. Aaron’s instructor describes him as a “calm, kind, insightful student who is helpful and humble while being competitive and engaged.”
Chia-En (Jessica) Chai
Capilano University
Earning the highest mark in her class, Chia-En excelled in the Bachelor of Tourism Management program at Capilano University. She made a strong impression though out her academic year and with her final project, which, according to her instructor, “was exemplary – exceptionally well-researched, demonstrated an insightful grasp and application of course concepts and was professionally presented. The work was good enough that I felt many of the suggestions could be useful for the company and encouraged her to present the group’s findings to the ‘client’.” Chia-En demonstrated a clear and disciplined commitment to learning, was genuinely interested in understanding the course content, and strove to do her best at all times. Currently, she is working in the food and beverage department at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. She hopes to explore different sectors in the tourism industry after she graduates while continuing her work. 
Emily Baker
Capilano University
Studying in the fourth year of her Bachelor of Tourism Management degree, Emily is an excellent example of a thoughtful student with a desire to think broadly about tourism issues and trends. Her instructors speak highly of her and she has excelled in all of her courses, and was recognized on either the Merit or Dean’s List in all but one of her nine semesters at Capilano University. She currently works as a Visitor Experience Specialist at Tourism Vancouver, where she received the Summer Superstar Award, which recognizes an employee with proficiency in product knowledge, teamwork, sales, customer service, and after-hours participation at work functions. Emily has many career aspirations following her graduation. She plans to become a Certified Human Resources Professional on top of continuing her work in customer service by working within destination marketing organizations or in a managerial position at an attraction to assist young professionals and create special moments for visitors. 
Gillian Dixon
Royal Roads University
With an extensive background and rich life experience, Gillian is a student in the Master of Arts in Tourism Management at Royal Roads University. Prior, she worked in the hospitality sector in Portugal and Austria, eventually becoming the first female restaurant manager and Operations Manager of one of London’s most prestigious restaurant groups, overseeing high-profile openings. She decided to return to Canada to pursue her studies. An active member of the community, Gillian helped facilitate a community planning session to organize BC’s approach to its 150th anniversary. She also volunteers as a Director for the Sooke Regional Chamber of Commerce in which she liaises and collaborates with the local tourism association to develop and manage tourism in Sooke. Her instructor at Royal Roads places her in the top three of her cohort, rating her work ethic, capabilities, reliability and future career potential as very high. Gillian is “someone who has demonstrated leadership and fostered a strong reputation. Her grades are typically within the A to A+ range – demonstrating her analytical abilities, insight and problem-solving skills.” After she completes her schooling, Gillian plans to enrol in the BC Provincial Instructor Diploma program. 
Jason Ellis
Selkirk College
Jason has stood out and proven himself by going above and beyond regular academic requisites, representing the Ski Resort Operations and Management program and Selkirk College in a professional and engaging manner. His passion for tourism grew out of his love of snowboarding, and he was involved in the industry at an early age as a snowboard instructor while still in high school. Even then he was an exemplary student leader, competing in business competitions in the hospitality and tourism category. Over the years he has continued to improve his teaching skills and obtained higher certifications, developing in his role as a camp counsellor to take on a mentorship position to train new employees. He aspires to be the head of a snow school at a major ski resort in the winter, while organizing and working with special events at an outdoor operation in the summer. Jason will be sure to excel in any career in the future. 
Jody Comparelli
North Island College
Jody is completing her Tourism and Hospitality Management Diploma at North Island College. According to her instructor, she has shown “tremendous strength of character and integrity” and displayed “a great deal of intellectual curiosity”, always trying to understand the social impact of the information she receives. Self-motivated and customer-service orientated, Jody is always willing to take on difficult and complex tasks.
After finishing her program at North Island College, Jody plans on obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, majoring in General Management. In the future, she hopes to set up and manage her own non-profit outdoor education society to educate people on the fun and safety of outdoor living and recreation on Vancouver Island. 
Julianna Tomaselli
Vancouver Island University

As the top student in her class in the Hospitality Management Program at Vancouver Island University, Julianna has displayed a great deal of energy, enthusiasm, and hard work. Her instructor praised her outstanding leadership skills and dedication in her volunteer capacity in a number of events at the university, and describes her as having “what it takes to be a future leader in the hospitality industry.” She is currently completing her co-op at the Rockwater Secret Cove Resort in the housekeeping and restaurant service department, where they are very pleased with her performance and work ethics. Julianna’s career goal is to work as an event manager for a popular hotel or resort. After she finishes her degree, she plans to go back to school to obtain her event management certificate. 
Meghan Wilson
Camosun College School of Business
Although only just starting out at the Hospitality Management program at the Camosun College of Business, Meghan has quickly picked up relevant skills and excelled in her academics, setting very high standards for her work. Presently she is working as a room attendant in the housekeeping department at the Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour, and intends to work her way up with her current employer. Her next step is to serve in the Fire and Water Chop House within the Marriott or in banquets part-time. Meghan says, “I am finding the more experience I gain [in the hotel], the more desire and commitment I have to continue growing professionally. The experiences I’ve had at school and at work in the industry thus far has solidified my love for creating memorable experiences for guests.” 
Nanette Chan
Capilano University
As one of the top students in the Bachelor of Tourism Management program at Capilano University, Nanette served as an excellent example of a student with professional attributes, with a customer-focused attitude, always wanting to create exceptional guest experiences. Her instructor praised her sales presentation as one of the best that she has seen in years. Nanette has obtained extensive tourism and hospitality experience in her co-op work terms, first as an Operations Assistant with a luxury travel operator and later as a Cruise Line Representative at the Port of Metro Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport, creating memorable experiences for a broad clientele. This experience solidified her desire to continue to work in this area, and she aims to work as part of an airport management team or start her own business and open up a travel agency catered to couples and family travel.
Rachel Ryall
BCIT School of Business
A recent graduate of BCIT’s Marketing Management program, Rachel has demonstrated “a maturity and a studiousness that was matched with industry and life experience”. A high-performing student, her assignments are constantly at the top of the class, showing industry-level competence and excellence. Her instructor describes her as “a bright spark who motivated her fellow students to listen, participate, and get the most they could out of the course”. With over ten years of customer service and hospitality experience, Rachel most recently worked at Coast Hotels in Vancouver, where she started in the hotel restaurant but was quickly promoted into the regional sales and catering department as a Sales Coordinator. Rachel was also a participant in the Winning Pitch, where her team developed a strategic marketing plan for agri-tourism growth in the Fraser Valley. Upon graduation, she hopes to find new work opportunities in incentive travel, group sales, or for a DMO.
Selina Schirp
Capilano University
Recommended by several instructors, Selina is currently completing her Bachelor of Tourism Management at Capilano University. Her academic achievement, and her ability to think broadly about tourism issues and how they relate locally and globally, impressed her instructors strongly in their nomination. They also highlighted the way she was always engaged as an active participant in class, adding to the discussion through her own research of campaigns and examples. She has been working with Carillion in several customer service related positions, first at the Vancouver International Airport and later as a cruise ship supervisor. In her role, Selina manages up to 15 team members on the daily cruise operations, training, developing, and scheduling cruise ship ambassadors. Selena hopes to develop a career in a management position within an airline company or to continue her studies with a Masters in Tourism Management.