Water a source of inspiration, cycle of giving

The cycle of giving back

Alumnus sees importance of investing in water resources and students’ learning

Even though he’s now in Ontario, Jesse Skwaruk (Water and Wastewater Technician ’14 ) can’t stop thinking about Alberta’s water.

He’s been doing it for years. After taking a masters degree in Edmonton in water policy and governance, he found himself thirsting for more (not to mention a job, which was proving tough to land with the degree alone). So he applied to NAIT’s Water and Wastewater Technician program for a more hands-on approach to studying water management.

“NAIT was a real spark that got everything up and going."

“NAIT was a real spark that got everything up and going,” he recalls. So did the program practicum, during which he worked at Epcor, parlaying that term into 4 years as a water treatment plant operator and watershed technologist.

“I didn’t even have to apply for it,” he recalls. “I got a call to say, do you want a job. That was a pretty big deal for me. I’m still pretty grateful for that.”

Today, Skwaruk focuses his doctoral research at the University of Waterloo on the impact of forest fires on water treatment in Alberta. It’s a field of study that’s gone largely untapped and one he feels requires immediate attention. “As a result of climate change, fires are burning bigger, faster, hotter – and it’s a trend that’s not going away any time soon.”

Scholarships provide essential support

Though he’s a strong advocate of lifelong learning, Skwaruk is no stranger to the sacrifices that come of student life. During his last few months at NAIT, bills began to pile up.

“I was getting a little worried. By the end of the program my bank account was nearly bone dry."

“I was getting a little worried,” he says. “By the end of the program my bank account was nearly bone dry. But I had applied for scholarships and I got a chunk of money that was really helpful. When I got my job at Epcor, I thought: that money that I got helped me get through, so give it back.”

Students in their second semester of the Water and Wastewater Technician program can now apply for the Jesse Skwaruk Water Education Scholarship.

Among the requirements: a letter written by them that outlines why they think the water and wastewater industry is essential to Alberta.

That Skwaruk is back on a student budget doesn’t greatly worry him. He believes life gives back what you put into it. Invest in our water resources and they will be there for us in the future. Invest in learning and students like him will have greater access to education.

“I’ll make it work,” he says with a laugh. “It’ll come back. It always comes back.”


Published on March 22, 2018