A little help goes a long way
When Julia Fowler learned she was going to have a baby, she decided to make some major changes in her life. The 23 year old was determined to set an example that would make her new daughter proud.
That's why Fowler applied to attend SAIT.
Taking the challenge head on
Fowler says the job she had before wouldn’t have been conducive to welcoming a new baby into the world. It required her to travel four months a year. “The company where I worked had me travelling all across Canada to install security systems. With a new baby, I needed to stay in one place,” says Fowler.
Since she enjoyed analyzing problems and working with technology, she decided to apply to SAIT’s Auto Mechanics program in the School of Transportation. “I really like working with my hands and with tools,” she says. “I figured applying those skills to cars would be really interesting and practical.”
During her first year of auto mechanics, Fowler was in a committed relationship and finances and child care were not big issues. She says she enjoyed her classes and was getting good marks. She even received a student award - the James and Michael Fidler Family Memorial Award. She was also accepted into the BMW Apprenticeship Mentoring Program (BAMP).
BMW provided her a summer job after she completed her first year and part time hours during her second year. Fowler’s life then took a dramatic turn. Her relationship ended at the end of her first year at SAIT. That meant she had to take over the entire financial burden of rent, childcare, food and tuition by herself.
“As a single mom, dealing with a young daughter and all those expenses, school was going to be overwhelming,” Fowler says. “I told my manager at work I couldn’t go back to school because I couldn’t afford it. It meant I’d lose all the benefits from the BAMP program. It was very disappointing because I wanted to graduate. I wanted to tell my daughter about what I accomplished around the time she was a baby.”
Emergency Fund changes everything
In August 2015, Fowler received a phone call from the SAIT School of Transportation, a call that changed everything. She was invited to meet with an I.G. Lewis Student Emergency Fund mentor and to bring along an estimate of how much money she would need to get through her second year.
“I had it all written out on a yellow note pad. I said this is my budget and this is the deficit every month – and this is why I can’t come back. I was told that the I.G. Lewis Student Emergency Fund could provide enough money to get me through. It was such a surprise and such a relief.”
She also received a second student award – the A. Blake Gordon Award – recognizing her academic achievement, community involvement and leadership.
She says it was a tough year but she was thrilled to graduate in June of 2016.
“I really feel like SAIT was pulling for me,” says Fowler. “I wanted to make my baby daughter proud and failure wasn’t an option.” Fowler is now working full time as a mechanic at a Calgary MINI Cooper dealership. She calls it her “dream job” and says she loves going to work every day.
The newly minted SAIT alumna says even though SAIT keeps information about I.G. Lewis Student Emergency Fund recipients confidential, she was eager to tell her story.
“I wanted to say thank you”, says Fowler. “I hope my story inspires people to keep donating or maybe someone will read it and decide to go to SAIT. I feel it’s important to tell people that I received this amazing help. It’s the reason I’m here today.”