Taking steps towards a fresh start

Published on April 21, 2023

Civil Engineering student, Chris Cook, is where he is today because of his determination, resistance to giving up and a strong support system. In his young adulthood, he experienced struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, oscillating between treatment and relapses. “My past struggles with addiction stunted my development as an adult,” admits Chris. “It was all consuming and prevented me from pursuing anything that could help me reach my potential.” 

“I have also had multiple health scares, back surgeries, workplace accidents, and the sudden death of my father three years ago also affected my journey.” 

Thankfully, Chris is in a good place now and has been sober for over three years. 

“Last year, I felt confident that I could get through schooling without any kind of relapse or going off the rails,” he says. “I felt strong enough to reach for my academic and career goals and decided to apply to NAIT. I was impressed by NAIT’s good reputation and liked that I would be prepared to go directly into the workforce after graduation.” 

Chris is completing his first year of studies this April and will be embarking on a 6-month co-op term before heading back to class. “The co-op program for civil engineering is competitive, so I feel that even getting in and getting hired, is a big accomplishment.” 

A bright light along the way 

Student Chris Cook and familyAnother highlight during Chris’ time at NAIT has been receiving the Corporal Bryce Keller MMV Memorial bursary. “When I found out that I was getting this award, it felt amazing. A huge weight was lifted off. It lessened the financial stresses and worries for me and my wife. I’m a full-time student so going from a two- to a one-income household has been difficult enough without factoring in the cost of things nowadays.” 

“It was a huge relief to receive the bursary as I couldn't imagine a world in which I'd have to go to school all week and then work all weekend – although I know a lot of students who are doing just that. I can breathe a little bit easier and take advantage of the opportunity to just focus on my schooling as opposed to worrying about finances and related responsibilities at home.” 

Looking forward and giving back 

“Even though I'm starting a little later than most, being a mature student, I feel like I’m still in a position where I can have a long and fruitful career. I’m looking forward to making a respectable wage and using my mind as opposed to taxing my body with a lot of physical labor.  

“In the future, I would like to be a donor, whether it benefits civil engineering students or anyone studying at NAIT. I'll always remember how much receiving a student award meant to me, and I'm sure 90% of students who go here would be grateful if they had the opportunity to receive one too.”