Unexpected circumstances spur career change for NAIT returning student

Published on August 22, 2023

By his mid 30’s, Mark von Stackelberg, had been in the workforce for over a decade, working as an electrician. He completed his electrician apprenticeship at NAIT and was a successful tradesperson using his strong work ethic and commitment to deliver high quality service in the Edmonton area. After years, the strenuous work in sometimes harsh conditions (heights, cold, dead rodents, etc.) was taking its toll. 

Then, in May 2018, Mark’s career took a stressful and unexpected turn when he sustained a wrist injury. This injury was the first in a series of troubles, recalls Mark. “I lost my job. I was in pain every day. My wife also got laid off and was pregnant with our first baby.” 

With some jostling, Mark’s wife was able to find work while Mark took care of their new baby boy. He had wrist surgery the next year but was largely incapacitated during the healing process. “It was a very difficult time and in December 2019 my wife became pregnant with identical twins.” The joy of this second pregnancy faded when Mark’s wife broke her fibula, a serious injury that would leave her unable to bear weight for months. 

“We were forced to move in with my wife’s parents because we were unable to take care of our baby independently. She was in a lot of pain – very ill from the pregnancy and could barely move – while also having to keep working from home to support us. Then, just as the world was entering the pandemic, my wife suffered a miscarriage, and we heartbreakingly lost our twins in the second trimester.” 

Heading back to NAIT to learn something new 

Thankfully, with family support, Mark and his wife came out of that difficult time and Mark decided to return to NAIT to study to become an MRI Technologist.  

“I am so excited for my new career. I can envision a future doing this for the rest of my working life. I absolutely loved my first year. Studying math, physics, health care, anatomy, and physiology at NAIT was invigorating and made me feel like I had found the perfect calling for me. I have fond memories of watching over our second baby while she slept, a daughter named Greta who joined us in 2021, while studying late into the night. I am so proud of the high marks I have achieved in this program. It just confirms that I am on the right path.” 

Student award affirms Mark’s decisions 

“I was excited to learn that I would be receiving a student award. This has been uplifting for me. It was very encouraging to receive the recognition and support for the hard work and sacrifice that I have made throughout the course of my program. 

“As a mature student with children my biggest struggle has been finding a balance between family life, responsibilities, and my studies. This award highlights the fact that my efforts have not gone unnoticed and reminds me that I have accomplished more than I had thought was possible.” 

Thank you to the donors who made this and other student awards possible. Your foresight and contributions improve the lives of students in so many ways.” 

Plans for a supportive future 

Mark hopes to find a job as an MRI technologist in Edmonton upon graduation. “I look forward to not only delivering quality MRI services but to also being someone who supports, encourages, and uplifts people going through a difficult circumstance, whether it be an injury, illness, or a generally difficult time in their lives. Having gone through some difficult times, though certainly not as difficult as some of my future patients will be going through, I can leverage that experience to encourage others.” 


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