BCIT’s History in a Nutshell (and a Few Notable Alumni)

Learning the history of a school can be boring, but if you’re looking for some info, you’ve come to the right place. Sometimes it’s fun to know who went to your school, even if you’ve never heard of them before, because you’ve got to have an answer if someone asks, “Who even went to BCIT anyways?” Read on.

BCIT was actually originally a vocational school called the BC Vocational School, which opened in Burnaby in 1960. Four years later, the BCIT Burnaby Campus was officially born and took over immediately. Can you believe that there were only around 500 students back then? Absolutely crazy! The BCIT Students Association was created not long after in 1966; they are now responsible for many things, including organizing clubs and events. The very first class also graduated in 1966. If you’d like to see a monumental photo from this day, click here.

Eventually, in 1985/1986, BCIT merged with the Pacific Vocational Institute which enlarged their course offerings! The technology center was established following this merge in 1989 and in 1992, the Vancouver campus officially opened! BCIT’s status as a Polytechnic was noted in legislation in 2004. Following this in 2007, the Richmond campus was opened, which boasted new international opportunities. The most recent BCIT development was in 2019, where the 106,000 square foot Health Sciences Centre opened on the Burnaby campus. For a more in-depth look at BCIT’s rich history, click here.

To start off looking at some notable alumni, we have Gloria Macarenko, an award-winning journalist and news personality. She continues to be the host of CBC Vancouver’s afternoon show called On The Coast. Chances are, you’ve probably heard her on the radio! She’s won plenty of awards for her reporting as well as journalism, such as the Jack Webster Award for “Best News Reporting” with CBC. She studied journalism at BCIT (of course) prior to starting her formal career. For more information on Gloria, check out her CBC bio here.

Following Gloria Macarenko, we have Vera Kobalia, a Georgian politician best known for her work as the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development for her country. In 2004, she graduated BCIT with a degree in Business Administration and Informational Technologies. She’s also been acknowledged as a Business in Vancouver Forty Under 40 for her business endeavours in Canada. She is a member of the World Economic Forum as well and Co-Founded a company called Olyn, which focuses on physical and digital assets for commerce. Beyond BCIT for education, Vera also studied at Yale, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and Harvard. Connect with Vera on LinkedIn. Who knows? She might even answer a direct message if you have any questions.

Next is Rob Short, a former Canadian Men’s National Field Hockey Team player. He founded his own company, the Rob Short Coaching Academy (RSCA) where he trains young athletes. He went to the Olympic twice, which is pretty cool: once in Sydney 2000 and once in Beijing 2008. He was also recognized as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the European Hockey League (EHL) in 2011. With some pretty amazing accomplishments to his name, Rob is currently Head Coach for his own company. Rob received his diploma in Web Technologies from BCIT before graduating from the University of Victoria with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography. If you’d like to check out his website you can do so by clicking here.

Have you tried any dating apps? If so, you might have heard of plentyoffish.com, an og dating app created by Markus Frind. After taking Computer Science and graduating from BCIT in 1999, Markus built the site out of his apartment! How crazy is that? He went on to oversee Plenty of Fish until it became the largest Canadian based website, and then sold it in 2015 for over 700 million dollars. He’s since opened a wine estate in Kelowna called Frind Estate Winery, so if you’re 19 or over and are ever in the area, feel free to check that out! To view his LinkedIn, click here.  

In case you haven’t noticed yet, BCIT is pretty cool. There’s some great history behind the school’s development and it’s been the starting point for many young professionals just like yourself. If you needed any inspiration, hopefully this article gave you some! It’s truly amazing to see what people have done with their BCIT education. Good luck with your own journey; maybe one day you will be one of BCIT’s best and brightest.

Published on September 2, 2021

About Emelie Seah

Emelie is a second-year student studying History and Business at Western University. When she’s not studying (or procrastinating) you can find her hanging out with family and friends, eating food, or going shopping!