Convocation 2012 full of inspirational stories
Andrea Oliver was nervous about returning to school. She had spent the previous 16 years as a stay-at-home mom and, for awhile, operating a day home.
But it didn’t take long for the mother of six to realize she had made the right decision trying something new and enrolling in NAIT’s Dental Assisting program, which offers students a “career in a year.” She is graduating from the 10-month program and is optimistic about her job prospects.
“It’s been amazing, just fantastic,” says Andrea, 38, whose children range in age from six to 17.
The Morinville resident was going through a divorce and looking for a career when the administrative assistant at her family dentist’s office suggested she consider dental assisting. She upgraded her education with a chemistry course and began the Dental Assisting program in September of last year.
Andrea says going to school full-time was an adjustment, not only for her, but for her children, who were used to her being home at all times.
“At first I was kind of nervous about it,” Andrea says. “But I also felt good about going back to school. I felt it was an adventure.”
Andrea says her two oldest sons are planning to attend NAIT after they graduate from high school.
She will be at Convocation Saturday morning with her mom, dad, boyfriend and sister.
From Nigeria to NAIT
Ibraheem Haruna and his brother Luqman immigrated from Nigeria to Canada in hopes of a better life.
They got that and more.
The brothers are both graduating from the Bachelor of Technology in Technology Management program and have already secured jobs.
“We wanted to go someplace where we could have peace of mind,” says Ibraheem, 39.
Ibraheem moved to Canada in 2005, relocating to Edmonton two years later to attend the University of Alberta, where he earned a project management certificate and his Project Management Professional (PMP) designation. Luqman followed a short time later, first moving to Fort McMurray in 2006, then to Edmonton in 2008.
Ibraheem says he had a good job in Nigeria, working as a regional manager with one of the largest telecommunications companies in Africa, but wanted to live somewhere with a more stable political climate.
In 2010, both brothers enrolled in NAIT’s Btech program. For the past two years, they held down full-time jobs while also attending NAIT full-time.
“I was looking for a program to complement my professional background (Bachelor of Science in physics) and was not ready for an MBA yet,” Ibraheem says. “I found the BTech program fit the bill.”
Ibraheem now works at the U of A as a project manager in the AICT department. He secured the job prior to graduation. Luqman, who came to Canada with an associate degree in electrical engineering technology, has a telecommunications job in Fort McMurray with Unified Systems Group. He recently also earned his PMP designation and plans to pursue his MBA in a few years.
“NAIT awakened the potential in me, giving me confidence in my private and professional life,” says Luqman, 35. “The BTech program instilled in me that anything envisioned can be achieved.”
While at NAIT, both brothers were active in the Student Leadership Team Award of Distinction (LEAD) program - a personal development and leadership program with an emphasis on volunteer work.
Luqman will be attending Convocation on Friday evening with family and friends. Ibraheem is unable to attend.
Lupus doesn’t hamper all-star volleyball player
Tayler Smith is an all-star volleyball player who hasn’t let Lupus slow her down.
“I love volleyball,” says Tayler.
The 20-year old is graduating from the three-year Respiratory Therapy diploma program. The program teaches students to plan and implement therapeutic and diagnostic procedures for patients suffering from a wide range of heart and lung disorders.
Earlier this month, the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) all-star – who coach Erminia Russo Thorpe refers to as a “standout” in the league and one of the team’s top players - was named an All-Canadian at the 2012 NAIT Athletics Awards Night.
Tayler has a busy life outside of volleyball. In addition to being a full-time student, she also volunteers with the Special Olympics, is a youth group leader with her church and belongs to an organization called Loveworks, which is helping raise money for those with need in Burundi.
She’s accomplished all this while dealing with the health challenges of Lupus, a disease where the body's immune system attacks healthy tissue. She was diagnosed three years ago when her kidneys failed.
The disease, Tayler says, sometimes leaves her feeling tired. She suffers chronic pain in her hands and knees. But keeping active helps, she says.
Tayler has a job lined up as a respiratory therapist at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. She plans to work there part time as she continues updating her education at the University of Alberta in the Bachelor of Science program. Her long-term goal is to become a pediatrician.
Smith will be at Convocation with her family on Saturday morning.
Edmonton woman quits her job, cashes in retirement savings to attend NAIT
In January 2011, Cindy Stevenson took a leap of faith.
The Edmonton resident, who was working as an office manager at the time, cashed in her retirement savings, quit her job and went back to school, choosing NAIT because of the institute’s “good reputation.”
Now 52, Cindy is not only graduating from the Digital Media and Information Technology (DMIT) program, she’s started a new job as a systems analyst with ATCO I-TEK. She’s come a long way over the past year and a half. Cindy says when she started at NAIT, she knew little to nothing about computer programming.
“I had to ask someone what a browser was,” Cindy laughs.
She notes she was 32 years old than one of her classmates. But hard work paid off for Cindy. She took courses throughout the summer and is finishing a two-year program in just 16 months.
“I’ve got my foot on the gas pedal and I don’t want to back off now,” Cindy says. “I plan on working for the next 20 years.”
Cindy is unable to attend Convocation.
Business student turns $5 into $748
Fred Thompson’s dream is to one day own his own drive-in movie theatre.
The 23-year-old NAIT Business Administration - Marketing student may very well be on his way after demonstrating his keen business sense in a recent class competition.
He turned the $5 given to him by his Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation instructor into a record $748 profit in just eight weeks. Fred did it by renting a St. Albert movie theatre for two special showings of The Lorax in March - a movie based on a Dr. Seuss children's book.
“I pitched the idea to the manager,” Fred recalls. “She gave me a price and allowed me to pay it afterwards.”
He marketed the event to family, friends and the community. Over 100 people attended the two showings, paying $10 each.
Fred made the greatest profit among the two classes that participated in the competition. As the winner, he selected Right to Play International as the charity that would receive the $4,287 in profits earned by all the competitors.
As part of the same class, Fred also developed a business plan for his drive-in theatre concept. For that, he was awarded Best Overall Business Plan and Best Marketing Plan.
“People have asked me how I set this Lorax thing up,” Fred says. “I tell them, ‘All I had to do was ask.’”
Fred, who is now graduating, plans to work and build up a bit of a nest egg so he can pursue his drive-in theatre venture.
Fred is unable to attend Convocation.
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