Embodying true ambassadorship for our region, two outstanding Okanagan College alumni are being recognized by the Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA) for their exceptional contributions to the communities in which they live.
Vernon’s Sareena Sharma Nickoli is this year’s recipient of the OCAA Distinguished Alumni Award that recognizes excellence in the areas of leadership, the environment, business or industry, public or community service, the arts, and/ or support for Okanagan College. Kelowna’s John Perrott will receive the OCAA Young Alumni Award, an award celebrating the outstanding contributions of an alumnus who is under the age of 35.
Their combined achievements in promoting economic development for the Okanagan, significant charitable contributions, commitment to volunteering for the betterment of the community, and their consistent positive can-do attitudes have earned them the OCAA’s top honours.
Nickoli, Director of Purchasing and Marketing at Vernon’s City Furniture & Appliances is a 2001 Bachelor of Business Administration graduate, and in 2003 she returned to the College to pursue an Interior Decorating Certificate that equipped her to excel in the family furniture business.
Never one to sit idle, Nickoli is also a leading Zumba Fitness instructor helping many in the community move to the rhythm and dance their way to a healthier lifestyle. She recently launched Vernon’s Soul Studio, where she teaches four fitness and dance classes a week plus workshops, and manages a team of instructors, on top of her career with City Furniture.
Leveraging her passion for Zumba fitness she has organized multiple Zumbathons that have helped raise tens-of-thousands of dollars for the new maternity tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, and to help purchase land for the Habitat for Humanity Vernon chapter. She has sat on the Board of the Downtown Vernon Association, volunteered with the Queen Silver Excellence programs mentoring young dancers, is a member of the Vernon Women in Business, and been a guest speaker at Women’s Enterprise Center and Community Futures events.
“I am humbled, I was taken aback when I found out about the award,” shares Nickoli. “I do things because I love to do them and to help out. Having inspired people to get fit and give back to their community along the way has been very rewarding.”
Young Alumni Award recipient Perrott graduated from the College’s Bachelor of Business Administration in 2003, specializing in Marketing.
Early in his career, Perrott demonstrated civic dedication through his work with the Downtown Kelowna Association, first as the Marketing Director, and eventually as Executive Director. He immersed himself into creating a better sense of place for the city’s residents, and visitors, and as a result has been invited to speak at conferences as an expert on various downtown management topics.
Staying on the civic path, today Perrott is the District of West Kelowna’s Economic Development Officer. Pioneering this role he is paving the way in generating economic growth, including promoting tourism through the creation of the Westside Wine Trail and Westside Farm Loops for the District.
Giving back to his community, Perrott currently serves on the Board of Directors for Creative Okanagan and has volunteered with Central Okanagan non-profit organization The Bridge Youth and Family Services, has served as Chair of the Exceptional Service Under the Sun Award committee, been the Vice President of the Business Improvement Area Association of British Columbia, and previously served as a Services Canada Employment Insurance Board of Referees member.
“It’s an honour to be recognized with this award, especially when you consider the esteemed list of business and community leaders who have earned the distinction in years past,” says Perrott. “It’s a real privilege to join their circle.”
“Both Sareena and John have accomplished a great deal in their careers to date,” says Kara Kazimer, President of the Board, Okanagan College Alumni Association. “We believe that the contributions to their communities and industries sets a standard that all current and future Okanagan College alumni should strive toward. They are a true testament to the exceptional educational and experiential foundation provided by the College.”
Nickoli and Perrott’s achievements will be celebrated at the Okanagan College Alumni Association awards ceremony and reception at the College’s Kelowna campus on October 15, 2015. For more information about the awards and previous years’ recipients, please visit www.alumni.okanagan.bc.ca.