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Q&A with Selkirk College’s co-valedictorian

When Selkirk College holds its convocation ceremony today for more than 1,000 students, the valedictory addresses will be delivered by Shelby Bell, 19, a graduate of the rural pre-medicine program and Kiel (pronounced Kyle) Harvey, 35, who has earned a bachelor of science in nursing. Both were chosen by their peers.

An outstanding student, Harvey represented the college on a number of organizations and while volunteering for groups like ANKORS. When COVID vaccines became available, he was a student immunizer at public clinics. We spoke to Harvey on Thursday to learn more about his experience at the college and to get a sneak preview of his speech.

What brought you to Selkirk College?
I started off going to a couple of universities in my 20s. I’m in my mid-30s now so I’ve done a bunch of different things over the last 20 years or so that ultimately led me to Selkirk. I wanted to be in a place where I could spend time on the mountains and on the trails and be outside as much as possible. Selkirk offered an opportunity to learn at a smaller school where I could establish some real connections with the staff and students I was working with. I started in 2019 and am finishing now.

So your program was right through the pandemic. What was it like?
It was an interesting experience. I actually felt pretty lucky to be in school at that time. When a lot of other people were finding their social circles getting smaller and smaller, I was still able to go and be around a more diverse group people with my classmates and spend time with people outside my immediate bubble. I had the opportunity to spend time with folks from different backgrounds and different ideas, especially at a time when there was a lot of division happening in our culture.

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I understand you were also involved with the Canadian Nursing Student Association and BC Nurses’ Union while you were a student?
Yes, the first two times I went to school I found myself shying away from all the classic student roles you could take on. I didn’t join too many clubs, I didn’t spend much time looking for extracurricular activities. This time going into school I wanted to kick that trend and try something a bit different, so I dove in to a few different opportunities and tried to get the most out of the learning experience beyond the classes I was going to. I feel lucky Selkirk is such an intimate school and affords us time to get to know our faculty and other students. That was a real privilege.

You were also part of a group that went to Uganda last year.
I was. I was really lucky it worked out with the pandemic. With the state of the world at the time I wasn’t sure if we would be able to go. But myself and another student from the nursing program went down with four other students from other programs, two from Selkirk and two from NVIT [Nicola Valley Institute of Technology]. Together we travelled to this smaller community in the district of Mukono. We got to work alongside and learn from the professionals providing health care to the community there.

Can you give us a preview of your valedictory address?
It’s a really hard thing to speak to everyone’s experience at school. The truth is my experience at Selkirk was not the same as some of others. We’ve had different journeys, been part of different communities, and really getting things out of this program. It’s hard for me to summarize in a two-minute speech.

But one thing we’re all fortunate enough to do is be curious over these last few years and keep learning. I think my speech is going to reaffirm that curiosity and encourage us all to leave school with a lot of other questions to keep asking and ways to keep learning. Hopefully those questions will lead to more understanding and understanding will lead to more compassion and compassion to trust and we’ll all win in the end.

What’s next for you after graduation?
I took a position with Vancouver Coastal Health. I’m doing their emergency specialty education program on the Sunshine Coast. I will be out there for the next couple of years.

The convocation ceremony begins at 11 a.m at the Castlegar campus. While registration to attend is closed, you can watch the livestream online.

Shelby Bell graduates from Selkirk College today as co-valedictorian. (Submitted by Selkirk College)
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