Lois McNestry

Discovery College owner receives Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal

Campbell River’s Lois McNestry views her Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal is an acknowledgment of how far her industry has come

Campbell River’s Lois McNestry views her Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal not so much as a personal achievement but rather an acknowledgment of how far her industry has come.

McNestry is the president and owner of Discovery Community College, a career college for adults.

She sees her Diamond Jubilee medal – which celebrates significant contributions and achievements by Canadians – as recognition for career colleges.

“I really felt honoured,” McNestry said upon receiving her medal last month in Ottawa.

“I think also proud that our industry stood out because we do make a difference in people’s lives and getting them into work. I was really thrilled the industry was recognized.”

McNestry acknowledged she was not the only one in the National Association of Career Colleges to be given a medal and said that speaks volumes about the contributions the colleges make to adult education.

McNestry’s is one of roughly 60,000 Diamond Jubilee medallions spread out around the country to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th anniversary.

Several other Campbell Riverites have also received one of the medals – made at the Royal Canadian Mint – including: Mary Ashley, Donald Assu, Michael Atchison, Carol Chapman, Arlene Fehr, Priscilla Henderson, Shelley Howard, Maurice Johnson, Frances Jones, Sian Thomson, William West-Sells, Mayor Walter Jakeway, Harvey Hunter, Les Ready, Jacquie Gordon, and Chief Robert Joseph.

McNestry received the honour in part for her success with Discovery Community College.

The post-secondary school was established in Campbell River in 1989 and McNestry got involved more than 12 years ago.

“It was just a business school at that time,” she said.

“But then it evolved to other career tracts.”

The college now offers courses in health care, trades, business and web development. Discovery College has also grown to have campuses across Vancouver Island and two in the Lower Mainland. McNestry said last year 95.7 per cent of the college’s graduates found employment – one of the best rates across North America, McNestry said.

Beyond that, McNestry said Discovery College is involved in the community, with most students out in the field completing practicums or preceptorships – practical experience and training for students supervised by an expert in the field.

The college also offers small classes sizes – the average is just less than 10 students per class – with hands-on experience.