VIU Cowichan Practical Nursing Student Recognized for Citizenship

VIU Cowichan Practical Nursing graduate Dilbert Garcia has earned some much-deserved recognition for his volunteerism both at VIU and in the community.

August 15, 2016 - 12:00pm

Dilbert Garcia is new to Canada, and he’s already deeply involved in the community

VIU Cowichan alumnus Dilbert Garcia immigrated to Canada just four years ago from the Philippines, and he’s already made significant contributions to both his community and his school. 

For his excellent grades and community involvement, he graduated in May with both the Mike Coleman Award for Citizenship and the George Paine Award. The Mike Coleman Award is given out each year to a VIU Cowichan student who demonstrates citizenship on campus and/or in the community and is a good all-around student; and the George Paine Award is given to one student per year enrolled in Practical Nursing or a related program who demonstrates financial need and whose outstanding character, effort and diligence as a student and potential as a member of society deserves recognition and encouragement.

“I’m very proud of myself,” says Garcia. “I worked really hard to juggle work, family and school. The program was hard, but I just figured I might as well give it my all.” 

Garcia, who graduated in May 2016 with a Practical Nursing (PN) Diploma from VIU Cowichan, worked in an accounting office for many years in his home country and as a special needs teacher, but when he moved here with his family, he decided to go in a different direction.

In the Philippines, he volunteered with a group of doctors and dentists who went into remote communities to offer medical and dental care, helping with venue arrangements, coordinating with local leaders, and feeding the volunteers and medical patients. Garcia liked the experience, so he decided to try nursing.

“These experiences motivated me to choose the Practical Nursing Program at VIU Cowichan to continue my passion for serving people and making their lives more meaningful by radiating my love and compassion to them through nursing care here in Canada,” he says.

Garcia has continued his volunteerism in the Cowichan Valley region, lending his support to events organized by the Cowichan Intercultural Society and helping out with youth programs at St. Edward’s Catholic Parish.

Garcia is working as a registered care aide at both Chemainus Health Care Centre and Cowichan District Hospital, and hopes to become a PN at both these locations when he obtains his license – he hopes to write the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of British Columbia regulatory exam this fall.

June Karstad, Office Manager and Financial Aid Assistant at VIU Cowichan Student Affairs, says there was never a more deserving candidate for both the Mike Coleman and the George Paine awards. “He’s really embraced the community and worked so hard to get good grades and take care of his family,” she says. “His nursing instructor said she wouldn’t be surprised if he got his masters and came back to teach.”

Dan Vaillancourt, an Adult Basic Education instructor at VIU Cowichan and coordinator of the Cowichan World VIU Days, an annual event that raises awareness and builds appreciation for cultural diversity at VIU, says last November, Garcia helped out with the event by participating in a panel discussion on how students learn best in a language that is not their first.

“He eloquently shared the joys and challenges of being an international student at VIU,” he says. “Dilbert’s sincere, humble and affable personality were appreciated by both students and faculty.”

To learn more about the programs on offer at VIU Cowichan, visit



Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250-740-6288 | C: 250.619.6860 | E:

Tags: Our Alumni