Ines Alvarado checks out a vehicle’s computer diagnostics in the VIU automotive program shop.

Nanoose First Nation mother of five takes on new challenges

Ines Alvarado earned the Lieutenant Governor or B.C.'s silver medal, awarded June 19 at VIU's convocation ceremonies

  • Jul. 9, 2015 8:00 p.m.

Ines Alvarado has a vision of one day owning her own automotive shop, where she can employ skills she’s developed in Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Automotive Service Technician and Management programs.

Alvarado’s positive outlook along with her relentless curiousity, work ethic, and attention to detail are all characteristics observed in the automotive program graduate, her instructors say. These qualities have also earned the 33-year-old mother of five the Lieutenant Governor or British Columbia’s silver medal, awarded June 19 at VIU’s convocation ceremonies for graduates in trades and applied technology programs.

Alvarado has spent the past decade in a career with her Nanoose First Nation, where she worked her way up from secretary to financial controller. With vacation time accruing over a number of years, and with her 17-year-old daughter Mary attending classes at VIU to complete her high school education, Alvarado decided to enrol alongside her daughter and use her time off to learn and expand her skill set in the automotive program.

In keeping with her vision of owning her own business one day, she also completed courses to attain a certificate in business management, awarded to her at VIU’s June 2 convocation, as well as completing the Management Skills for Supervisors Certificate offered through VIU’s professional development and training.

“I had no experience in automotive, I just knew I liked cars,” said Alvarado. “When I came in, I had no idea what the alternator even looked like. I loved the work in the shop, and I liked working on the bigger trucks because there’s more room and you can crawl up there to work on the engine.”

Dean Cadieux, instructor and chair of the automotive program, said Alvarado excelled academically and worked hard to master the skills in the shop.

Her instructors were also impressed with her safety conscious work habits, and awarded her the Department Safety Award.

Alvarado said she wasn’t sure at first how she would fit into her all-male class, particularly in the shop, but soon found an environment where her learning flourished and her many questions were always answered.

“I would keep the instructors after hours with my questions,” she said with a laugh.

While completing two VIU programs was challenging at times for her, Alvarado and her family were simultaneously handling another serious challenge at home. Her 18-month-old son was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a heart condition that arises from improper electrical activity of the heart.

With her husband staying home with the children, and with support from VIU instructors who allowed her time away from classes to deal with her son’s hospitalizations and medical appointments, Alvarado said it was difficult to keep going at times.

Alvarado will be joined by her daughter in the French course, and expects they’ll both find it fun and challenging.

­— Submitted by VIU

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tigh-Na-Mara general manager Paul Drummond, left, and SOS executive director Susanna Newton right are prepared for a reinvented Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive in 2020. COVID-19 will not spoil the community’s annual day of giving and help for local families through the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program. (Peter McCully photo)
Reinventing Parksville Qualicum Beach’s popular Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive

COVID-19 restrictions won’t spoil community’s annual morning of giving

Map of the location of the Telus cell tower that it plans to build in Qualicum Beach. (Town of Qualicum Beach Map)
Qualicum Beach council approves location of Telus communications tower

Plan is to improve cellphone service in the area

The City of Quesnel has painted its functional fire hydrants with different characters. (Quesnel Downtown Association Photo)
Qualicum Beach committee wants fire hydrants painted with sea life designs

Local artists would be invited to help with the work

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Police in Nanaimo are looking for a woman who allegedly threw hot coffee on a McDonald’s employee. (News Bulletin photo)
UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP still looking for woman who threw coffee at worker after already receiving refund

Police asking for information in investigation that could lead to assault charges

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Most Read