With retirement on the horizon, Jacquelyn Penner has much to be proud of during her time at Medicine Hat College. Penner, whose career at MHC spans 25 years, was recently named one of the province’s 50 Most Influential People by Alberta Venture magazine for her contributions to the college and community.
“I have to confess, I almost didn’t open the email,” said Penner, when she received the letter from Alberta Venture. “It never occurred to me that it was going to be anything like this. I was sitting here in a state of shock initially. After that, I was thrilled.”
Not only is she pleased for her contributions to be recognized, she’s proud that she can help shine a spotlight on the many positive things that are happening at Medicine Hat College.
Growing the business program, building relationships in the community and supporting the creation of the Entrepreneurial Development Centre (EDC) are among her many accomplishments.
Penner’s top priority after becoming dean in 2004 was to develop strong ties between the college and local business community. Part of her strategy to build those relationships was the launch of the “Connecting Students to Business” dinner. This event has grown from a small affair into a successful annual tradition that attracts over 200 people, said Penner. Always eager to give credit where credit is due, she is quick to acknowledge the efforts of her administrative assistant, Marcella Van Slyke, and other college departments who help make this event possible each year.
“The business community was thrilled to have the college engaged and has been really welcoming,” said Penner. In addition to inviting business owners to MHC to share their experiences, Penner often took students to events off campus to enhance their business education and develop contacts in the community.
The EDC is another point of pride for Penner.
“I really do think it is the future for many students. For some, I believe the best job will be the job they create for themselves. I am thrilled to be part of that,” said Penner, who was involved in the initial start-up of the project and credits the ongoing success of the EDC to its manager, Jon Sookocheff.
Penner started as a part-time instructor at the Brooks campus in 1988 and moved to Medicine Hat in 1995. She has also served as the chair of the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce, director of the Economic Development Alliance of Southeast Alberta, and recently received the Women in Business 2013 Inspire Award in recognition of her contributions to the community.
As her career draws to a close, Penner is grateful for the opportunities MHC has provided.
“It has been a great place to work. There are many amazing people at Medicine Hat College and I will genuinely miss seeing them on a regular basis. I look forward to doing nothing for a while – although I’m not sure how long that will last,” said Penner with a smile. Her last day at MHC is August 2.
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