A journey of determination and compassion

Published on February 22, 2022

Erick Estrada, tech expert and entrepreneur, is the Spirit of NAIT Alumni Award recipient for his intentional approach to giving back to a variety of communities

Determination has brought Erick Estrada (Business Administration – Management '18) a long way, whether you measure that in kilometres or success. 

Growing up in Mexico, Erick began his career as a tradesperson with the Mexican military, serving as an air weapons technician. 

But a different adventure was calling to him. While Erick’s career was thriving, many of his family members were moving to Canada. First, his father came for work in 2007. Then his two younger brothers and mother arrived in Edmonton two years later, with the elder of the siblings later enrolling at NAIT. In 2014, after five years in the military, Erick decided to follow, starting at NAIT in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program. 

That was only the beginning of his education journey at NAIT. Erick came to see ESL as a gateway to a new career, and progressed into studying management, a program he believed could help his career in Canada take off. 

Along the way, just as he served his country in his previous career, he’d find ways to support his new community in Edmonton. 

Advocate for international students 

From the start, Erick was an active member of the NAIT community, with a particular interest in supporting those who’d come from abroad for a polytechnic education. He understood their challenges, from adapting to a new culture to learning a new language.  

He spearheaded a number of events and initiatives as president of the International Students’ Club, a member of the NAIT Students’ Association Campus Activity Board and outreach and wellness leader. It was in the latter role that his passion for improving mental health support systems on campus came to the forefront. 

“People shouldn’t be ashamed about talking about mental health.”  

“I noticed a lot of people were stressed about school and having a hard time,” Erick says. He started investigating what he could do to support mental health.

Support for immigrant entrepreneurs 

Among the connections Erick made at NAIT was fellow student Cesar Antonio Cebreros Lara, who studied Digital Media and Information Technology (class of '17) and had also served as a president of the International Students’ Club. Combining his expertise in web and software development with Erick’s business acumen, the two put their skills to start a new business.   

In keeping with the spirit of their experiences at NAIT, the venture was designed to help others in this case to support those who’d come to Canada from elsewhere. “After graduation, I had an idea to help businesses with streamlining their operations,” Erick says. 

That business, FlamingSoft Inc., offers immigrant business owners customized software solutions as well as other technical support. It now boasts eight employees – three here in Edmonton and five in Mexico. All three Edmonton employees are NAIT graduates. 

Building on a passion for community 

In addition to entrepreneurship, Erick worked in fund development with the Canadian Mental Health Association, which operates housing and education and crisis intervention services. In time, he took on the role of operations coordinator position, where he supports staff with technology that keeps the programs, website and general operations carrying on smoothly, all of which in one way or another moved to virtual in the last years. 

“When I started, everything was in person,” says Erick. “Everything since has shifted towards virtual.” 

His focus on maintaining connections, however, continues unabated; it’s clear in his drive to put his skills to work in serving his community. In the little free time he has, Erick volunteers with the Alberta Community League and the Mexican Society of Edmonton. 

Spirit of NAIT Alumni Award

Erick Estrada received the Spirit of NAIT Alumni Award his intentional approach to giving back to a variety of communities. It is awarded to alumni who have made exceptional advances or achievements in their career within 12 years of graduation.