Carpentry scholarship builds student success


Patrick A. R. Smith Memorial Endowed Fund established in memory of former instructor

Former NAIT instructor Patrick Smith loved building things. Originally, from St. Joseph Island, Ontario, he moved to Edmonton and taught at NAIT for nearly 25 years.

Sherril Cossey (Management ’99) – also a NAIT employee over the past 15 years in the JR Shaw School of Business – remembers his passion for teaching. “Pat was an intelligent, kind and caring person who was always willing to help others,” she says.

Sherril Cossey

Cossey was a single mother with three boys when she first met Smith (pictured left)  in the classroom of a course he taught on building inspections at the Appraisal Institute of Canada. The couple eventually married.

Tragically, Smith was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma. Before he died in 2007, the couple talked about some property he owned back in Ontario.

Following her husband’s wishes, Cossey found an adjacent landowner in the maple syrup business willing to purchase the sugar bush land.

“NAIT was such an important part of Pat’s life and he was so committed to his students.”

Taking proceeds from the sale, Cossey and her family established the Patrick A. R. Smith Memorial Endowed Fund. “NAIT was such an important part of Pat’s life and he was so committed to his students,” she says. “It was just so fitting that the support for students be set up in perpetuity.”

Since then, the scholarship has benefitted half a dozen students enrolled in NAIT’s Carpenter apprentice program. One grateful recipient? Kirk Moen, an apprentice carpenter, with dreams of one day becoming an instructor himself.

A boost for aspiring apprentice

Moen (Carpenter ’17) got his start in construction as a summer job after earning a university degree to become a high school teacher. Struggling to find a teaching gig, that summer job turned out to be a new opportunity.

While attending NAIT, Moen had mounting student loans to pay off. “We’ve been financially strapped throughout my apprenticeship,” he admits.

And, with a young family to support – he and his wife and two children live in Sherwood Park – times were tough. When Moen received the Patrick A. R. Smith Memorial Endowed Fund scholarship, it was just the boost he needed.

“Receiving the scholarship was really important, even in terms of things like getting groceries. For us, it was impactful on our lives and critical to helping me get through the program.”

Brighter days are ahead: Moen completed his 4th year and red seal, and in spring 2018, he is looking forward to getting his blue seal ticket. He enjoys being part of a dynamic crew of carpenters and apprentices, particularly the hands-on aspect of operating machinery, concrete formwork, and wood frame construction.

“It’s such a sigh of relief. I never realized I love carpentry as much as I do until I got into the field. One of my dreams is to become an instructor someday. It would be a dream job – teaching is another area of passion for me.”

Published on March 23, 2018