Dedicating a Career to Helping Others
"One of the reasons I give back is to say thank you. I appreciate my time at NAIT – it's more than a job, it's about caring for people." – Helen Balazs-Peters, President, Association of Retired NAIT Staff
Born in Drumheller and raised in Calgary, Helen Balazs-Peters knew growing up that she wanted to work in health care - she was unsure, however, what she would specialize in.
She became a trained first aider with St. John’s Ambulance. It was then she discovered her career path. One of her colleagues was an X-ray technologist and encouraged her to enter the field. It was then she discovered her career path. Taking images for people who needed it appealed to her, and she was one of only five students accepted to study at a Calgary hospital.
She graduated and married Pierce Peters, an accounting instructor, and they moved across Canada – Toronto, Fredericton and Moose Jaw – making their way back to the prairies to settle in Edmonton. That was when she decided to become an educator herself.
She attended the University of Alberta to earn a Bachelor of Education degree and was hired at NAIT as a radiologic X-ray instructor. She says she immediately felt at home. With class sizes of approximately 60, she enjoyed getting to know her students – often encouraging them to visit her office to talk.
Now retired, when Helen reflects back on her 18 years at NAIT, she has many great memories – teaching in the excellent labs, relaxing in one of the outdoor spaces or chatting with students and staff. “NAIT was really good to me. I enjoyed being here. I can be at NAIT again. Doing what, I don’t know. I’ve kiddingly said I can work one day a week at NAIT,” she laughs.
At her retirement party in 2006, then-president of the Association of Retired NAIT Staff (ARNS) asked her to consider volunteering. She was more than eager to lend a hand. Helping others, after all, had been a trademark of her career.
Today as ARNS president, Helen is often on campus, where former colleagues greet her with open arms. When there’s any opportunity to help with activities and events, she’s usually first in line – even flipping pancakes last October at the launch of the faculty and staff campaign, NAIT it Forward.
“I really felt that it was important for ARNS to get involved and have our members think about giving back,” Helen says, “People who give make things happen.”
It was this generous spirit of giving that inspired Helen to set up a scholarship back in 1997.
“I had students who would wake up at two or three o’clock in the morning to do homework before getting their kids up to go to school.” The Helen Balazs-Peters Scholarship is awarded annually to the first-year student with the second highest mark in the Didactic Radiologic Technology course.