Michael Carpenter-Newmark: At the Heart of Innovation


Michael originally signed up for Okanagan College’s Gateway to Technology program because he wanted to learn more about computer programming. He recalls, “I thought it was just programming and coding, but it was completely different than I expected it to be.” What started out as a desire to expand his computer-based skills, ultimately led him to pursue a dual degree in computer science and psychology—which he is currently completing at Stanford University.

Support from his friends and family have helped Michael navigate his goals, along with one simple strategy: “You have to start small when working toward your goals.” He explains that he wasn’t always this motivated, and he had only begun making further education plans in his last few years of secondary school. He started to make small changes in Grade 10, spending more time studying and learning new ways to better apply his time. Looking back, he sees how far he has come and how those small decisions helped along the way.

He advises other young adults searching for purpose in their career or education journey, to pursue interests that hold personal meaning. He suggests, “Focus on what you are passionate about. You have to look back and think about what makes you happy, and work on making time for that. For me, I’m passionate about helping people and learning skills that will help me do that.”

Inspiration comes from different sources, and Michael credits his Inuvialuit heritage for where he is today. However, his community has been significantly impacted by the high suicide rates among Inuit youth. Michael lost two friends to mental health struggles in 2019, and hence advocates for improving access to mental health care in communities like his. Michael sees his dual computer science and psychology degree as the first step toward contributing to future mental-wellness innovation.

Michael believes that talking about an issue is the first step toward making impactful change. He notes how a lot of people around him, including himself, have experienced depression—which is why it’s important to talk openly about mental health. Michael knows there is an opportunity to make a difference by letting others know they are not alone. As a student, Michael is determined to learn more about mental health—with the hope of one day applying his knowledge to help people impacted by it.

Michael’s story demonstrates how career goals can be influenced by many different factors, and sometimes it takes a little creativity to combine the topics close to heart and set yourself on the right career path.

Read the Skills for the Future Workforce competency list to learn more about the skills employers are looking for.

The KUU-US Crisis Line is a culturally-safe 24-hour resource for suicide prevention for Indigenous people in British Columbia. Call toll-free at 1-800-588-8717.

Crisis Centre BC is a 24-hour crisis line available to British Columbians. Call toll-free at 1-800-784-2433.