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Award relieves student's financial burdens

Graduating from high school, enrolling into post-secondary and moving away from home all at once is no walk in the park.

Elise Wocknitz felt the pressure when she packed her bags and left her hometown of Lethbridge to begin SAIT's Diagnostic Medical Sonography (DMS) program. Wanting to pursue her dreams, she began looking for ways to pay for her education.

"I've stressed out about money a lot so anything that could take that stress off and make it easier to focus on my schoolwork was definitely beneficial."

One of Wocknitz's options was to apply for an Entrance Award through SAIT's Student Awards program. She took a chance, and applied online.

She was so excited to hear the news that she'd been selected to receive a Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited Award. Recipients are selected based on financial need, academic achievement and community involvement. Wocknitz was even more pleased that it was a renewable award, which meant that if she maintained her grades, she'd receive more funds in her second year. 

"I was carrying some student loans because I didn't have enough money coming out of high school, so the scholarship took a big weight off my shoulders," she says. 

DMS is a demanding program with an intense course load and a thorough work placement practicum that didn't leave much time for an additional part-time job. Paying rent, living expenses and tuition would've made for a tough two years, but the award Wocknitz received helped her keep up with her work and she graduated with flying colours.

After graduation Wocknitz landed a job at a clinic in Lethbridge. She says it was great to have the opportunity to apply her training in her chosen field. 

"I like how basically every day I go to work, I learn something new. There are no two cases that are exactly alike and I'm always on my toes. I feel like I'm challenged every day. The technology is always changing and it's something that I need to keep up with."

Wocknitz loved the community at SAIT. She says everyone she encountered helped make a demanding program easier and she even works closely with one of her fellow alumni. 

"Coming to class and interacting with the instructors was a great day, every day," Wocknitz says.

She advises new students to seek out SAIT's Student Awards Program. "Don't be afraid to apply," she says. "You never know what you might get unless you try."

Written by Jolisa Tweedie
SAIT Journalism Student