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A student’s second chance

Matt Brewer took a leap by attending SAIT — and landed on his feet.

Matt Brewer took a leap by attending SAIT — and landed on his feet.

Fields studded with bales of hay sped past the window as Matt Brewer and his family drove the long stretch of highway between Edmonton and Calgary. They left home and went south for a life-saving addiction program for their eldest daughter, but Matt soon conceded he needed the same kind of help.

It was the beginning of a journey of self-discovery and the realization of potential. We sat down with Matt and he told us his inspiring story.

“We took our daughter to a family treatment centre. They helped us learn to lead a healthy life and create a healthy household. I learned to be humble and teachable through getting sober, and after a year I decided to look into going back to school.

“I’d been looking for work as a heavy duty mechanic, and the last straw was when I handed in a resumé and the lady slid it back to me and told me to keep it because I was going to need the 10 cents. I knew then I wanted more.

“I’d thought about the Mechanical Engineering Technology program back in Grade 9, but no one in my family had gone to college so I didn’t think I could do it either. But everyone had told me through my addictions program that it was never a bad decision to keep learning. I decided I wanted to see how far I could go.

“There was an Open House at SAIT that fall. I brought my kids, knowing deep inside it was for me. I went and circled the School of Manufacturing and Automation booth multiple times before I got up the courage to talk to someone. Two months later, I called the Learning Centre and made an appointment to see what upgrading I’d need to do. Well, I needed to upgrade almost all my high school.

“Nothing was what I expected. I thought I was going to be the oldest person in class, but I wasn’t. There was a guy around my age I got along with right away. My very first class, I sat right in the back next to this guy and we started chatting and messing around and not paying attention. I realized I’d fallen back into my old pattern. I was always the kid who sat in the back, never took notes and barely paid attention. I decided I wasn’t going to do that again. I went to my next class and sat at the front with my notebook open.

“I’d ended up sitting next to a 63-year-old student, and he blew me away. He’d retired after working in his career for 30 years. I thought, if this guy can start a new career so can I. After upgrading, I was accepted into the Mechanical Engineering Technology program at SAIT.

“When I came to Orientation, everyone was so welcoming and the campus was great — I felt comfortable right away. I also learned I could bring a level of maturity and life experience to class, and the program far exceeded any expectations I had. It offered me a new challenge and helped me grow.

“I’m both excited and a little scared to explore a whole new career. I want to stay in the automotive industry but I also want to explore as much of the engineering side as I can. I want to bring engineering to the hot rod community both locally and globally.

“SAIT gave me a chance to change my life. I was a good mechanic but I wanted something different — something I was more passionate about. When I was in my addiction, I thought I knew everything. My experiences in getting sober helped me realize there are always new things to learn and explore. SAIT opened up that opportunity for me. I set this goal for myself and I reached it, and now I get to reap the rewards — a career I’m excited about.”

Find out more about Matt’s program, Mechanical Engineering Technology. You can also celebrate with him by watching SAIT’s Spring Convocation ceremonies streaming live on sait.ca June 11 at 1 pm, June 12 at 9 am and 1 pm, and June 13 at 9 am.

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