Class of 2024 Valedictorian Cranks Up the Volume

May 21, 2024
Class of 2024 co-valedictorian Jay Porteous sits on steps with her guitar.

Complete with a little rock n’ roll snarl that goes along with her educational pathway of choice, Class of 2024 co-valedictorian Jay Porteous is confident her fellow graduates are ready to make a raucous impact on their budding careers. 

Chosen to represent her peers at Selkirk College Convocation on May 30, Porteous is a graduate of the three-year Contemporary Music & Technology Advanced Diploma Program based out of Nelson’s Tenth Street Campus. A dynamic performer on stage and gracious leader within the classroom, Porteous is excited about what the 1,033 fresh alumni who have earned credentials will accomplish within in their communities. 

“We rock and we’re going to kick some ass in our career fields!” says the 21-year-old. “There are so many super talented people that I have met in all Selkirk College programs. Now armed with all the knowledge we have been given, we are so ready to tackle what comes next. The people I have met over the last three years are so passionate, success is certain to follow.”

Six Strings that Inspire Devotion

Growing up in Kelowna, music has never not been a part of Porteous’s life. With grandparents who are classically trained musicians and parents who consistently encouraged the arts, Porteous started with violin at a young age. Though she enjoyed learning music, it wasn’t until Grade 6 that a zealous passion took over.

“I felt in instant connection to the guitar and that is what blew up music for me,” she says. “I always liked singing, but to pair it with the guitar was a beautiful collision.”

The spark from guitar raised Porteous’s all-around game. By junior high she had started her own band, was playing flute in the school band, and guitar in both the jazz band and choir. Adding to her growing skillset, Porteous also honed her talents at Wentworth Music, the acclaimed Okanagan private music school started by Selkirk College alumni Noel Wentworth. 

“Performing comes naturally, it’s one of the big reasons I was drawn to music,” Porteous says of the formative steps in her progression. “I seem to have a moment of clarity and a natural feeling comes over me when I’m on stage… I am in my element and at ease.”

After battling through the stress and strain of being a high school student during a worldwide pandemic, Porteous considered several post-secondary options. But with the encouragement of her guitar teacher at Wentworth—also a Selkirk College music program alumni—she decided to take her skills to the next level.

“I love learning about everything, I am curious naturally,” she says. “But music is the only thing that I can really see myself doing 30 years from now. That’s my future.”

An Incubator for Creativity

Gregarious and possessing boundless energy, Porteous immediately found her community on the Tenth Street Campus. For almost four decades, the Contemporary Music & Technology Program has provided learners with a unique learning experience where growing talents are fostered by industry-veteran faculty. It was exactly what the young guitarist was seeking. 

Class of 2024 co-valedictorian Jay Porteous playing guitar on stage
Whether supporting her classmates in a variety of ways or ripping through guitar solos on stage, Contemporary Music & Technology Program alumni Jay Porteous made the most of her time at Selkirk College. Chosen as a co-valedictorian for the Class of 2024, she will address her peers at the May 30 ceremony on the Castlegar Campus.

“To put it simply… the best decision of my life to come here,” says Porteous, who lists Muse, The Offspring, Sum 41 and Guns & Roses as her broader influences. “It was everything I needed out of a program to do what I want to do with my music. I wanted to learn everything about music and Selkirk College was the answer. It helped me develop my skills as a musician on my chosen instrument, but also provided a well-rounded education in all of the things that make up music as a whole. It’s the backbone and it makes this program special.”

After Porteous completed the two-year Contemporary Music & Technology Program in 2023, she decided to stay for the advanced diploma where she could continue learning, collaborating with classmates and building a resume that sets her up well for the next step. With a Swiss Army knife array of skills she is returning to Kelowna to perform, write music, teach and continue to explore outlets within the industry.   

Described as a “beacon of leadership, peer support and positivity” by the instructors who nominated her for valedictorian, Porteous quickly became a leader within the program. Traits that help epitomize a Selkirk College learner, she is the first music program student to take the stage as valedictorian.

“It’s a big honour to represent my year and be entrusted to provide some words that sum up our amazing time at school,” says Porteous, who had her high school graduation ceremony canceled because of COVID-19. “It’s a big job, but I know how important it has been for me so I am excited to take on the challenge. The people I have met here are life connections. I may be leaving Nelson the city behind, but will never leave behind the important parts of my experience.”

Learn more about the School of the Arts.

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