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

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

Student earns achievement award

NANAIMO – Mother of five finishes two programs at Vancouver Island University.

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 automotive service technician and management programs.

Alvarado, a 33-year-old mother of five, earned the lieutenant-governor of B.C.’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, Alvarado decided to use her time off to learn and expand her skill set in the automotive program.

“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.”

In keeping with her vision of owning her own business one day, she also earned a certificate in business management and completed the management skills for supervisors certificate.

While completing two VIU programs was challenging at times for her, Alvarado and her family were 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, Alvarado said it was difficult to keep going at times.

She’s signed up to continue classes toward a diploma in business management and begun a finance course as well as a course in French in VIU’s summer session.