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Bissett Bursary Program creates opportunity for students in need

SAIT student and self-described over-achiever Chelsea Webster knew she wanted to go to post-secondary school when, at a very early age, she saw how nylon could be made with just two chemicals.

"It was the coolest thing ever," says Webster. "I've had a love of chemistry ever since."

This fall, Webster enrolled in the Chemical Laboratory Technology program and is one of nine students studying at SAIT as part of the Bissett Bursary Program. Thanks to Calgary business leader David Bissett's generous gift of $5 million, these students — and subsequent groups every year — will be provided with a bursary valued at $15,000 to study in a two-year SAIT program of their choice.

Webster says she was shocked when she received the letter. "When I heard it was a full-ride scholarship, I couldn't believe it; I actually cried. I had to get my mom to finish reading the letter to make sure it wasn't a scam."

Applications for the Bissett Scholars Program are now open for the 2015 academic year. Principals and guidance counsellors from qualifying high schools are encouraged to make recommendations and submit an application form for students they feel would benefit from the program.  The application deadline is March 15, 2015. For details on qualifying high schools and the application process, visit the Bissett Scholars program page. It's not just a bursary

Students in the Bissett Bursary program are given more than just financial assistance; they also receive personalized counselling to help them succeed. They attend a three-day orientation course designed to help them prepare for their studies. This course includes advice on how to manage time, improve memory, learn strategically, take effective notes, work in teams and manage exam stress.

In addition to this specialized orientation, each scholar is matched with an academic coach for several one-on-one meetings during the first semester, followed by ongoing meetings to help stay on track.

"Students always need a cheering squad and a coach behind them," says Shan Robertson, Manager, Learner Success Services. "We're going to make sure there's a support system available to help each one of the Bissett scholars find success at SAIT."

Who qualifies?

The Bissett Bursary Program is available to students attending one of 10 Calgary high schools. Students are chosen for the program based on financial need, community involvement, career planning and academic success in high school.

Debbie MacDonald, Student Counsellor at St. Anne Academic Centre, was thrilled to have one of her students chosen as part of the program this year.

"What an incredible scholarship to be able to give a deserving student," says MacDonald. "For the recipient chosen from St. Anne this year, it was a dream come true. To not have to worry about money and tuition for books is invaluable for him and his family. He is a dedicated student who will work hard to prove his worth and be successful in his career."

Inspired by donation

Chelsea Webster echoes that student's drive, intent on proving she is also worthy of the scholarship. She says watching David Bissett give so much to so many people has made her want to give back, too.

"I want to be the type of person that makes others say, ‘Wow, this person has really made a difference in my life,' the same way David Bissett has made a difference in mine," says Webster. "If I could be even close to the person he is, I'd be happy."


David BissettCongratulations David!

SAIT congratulates Calgary businessman and philanthropist, David Bissett, on being named Lifetime Achievement Philanthropist as part of the Generosity of Spirit Awards.

Bissett is among an esteemed group of individuals, families, youth groups and businesses to be honoured by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Calgary and Area Chapter for their demonstration of philanthropy through outstanding contributions of time, talent, leadership and financial support. The Generosity of Spirit Awards, announced as part of National Philanthropy Week, provide an opportunity to celebrate the generosity of those who make a difference in our community.

SAIT, along with The RESOLVE Campaign, nominate Bissett for this award because of his investment in the success of SAIT students through the Bissett Scholars Program and for his commitment to ending homelessness by supporting the Calgary Homeless Foundation. 

About SAIT

SAIT is one of Canada's most exciting destinations for post-secondary education, offering more than 100 career programs and over 1,400 part-time courses (including online and distance) that position people for success in technology, trades and business. A leader in innovation, SAIT also collaborates with industry on applied research and delivers corporate training worldwide. SAIT has been recognized as being one of Alberta's Top Employers, the Top Research College in Canada and the Best Alberta Workplace for Training and Development.

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