Giving students a leg up on Giving Day

For Andrew Drummond*, attending SAIT was part of a career change that allowed him to spend more time with his family. Originally from southern Ontario, Drummond studied Earth Science and Commerce at St. Mary’s University in Halifax before working as a geologist for several years. When an unforeseen life event forced Drummond to sell his company and home and move to Edmonton, he was faced with a difficult career decision.

 “I tried to do the same kind of work out here, but it was difficult because I didn’t have the kind of connections and crews that I had back in Ontario,” he shares. “So, I switched into a new trade and chose refrigeration since it seemed like a better trade for somebody with a family.”

A difficult decision

Drummond found a job with an Edmonton-based commercial full-service company and has worked on their HVAC repair and preventative maintenance team for the past two and a half years.

As part of Drummond’s long-term plan to attain his Refrigeration Technician ticket, he looked into refrigeration and air conditioning programs. He found openings in the spring intake for SAIT’s Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic program. Despite the three-and-a-half-hour drive, Drummond decided to enroll, find a short-term rental in Calgary and make the journey from Edmonton to Calgary every week. But after shopping around, he could not find an affordable place to stay.

“I came down thinking I’d be able to find a place to rent,” he says. “But most places wanted crazy amounts of money, so I thought I’d stick it out and stay in my car. It was definitely a bit of overconfidence, but I just thought it’ll be fine; I’ll just sleep in the car.”

Drummond would attend his courses during the day and return to his car in the evenings to sleep for the next four weeks.

“It was just bizarre. There were some characters in that area that would wander around, and some tried to break into my car in the middle of the night,” he shares. “I wasn’t able to focus on my studies, and I wasn’t doing as well on my tests as I should.”

To add pressure to the situation, Drummond wasn’t receiving paychecks while attending the program and knew that if he failed, he would be on the hook for his missed earnings. On top of all that, he was away from his family for most of the week. When he realized he couldn’t keep going in that situation, Drummond reached out to Student Services to see what support he might get.

A massive relief

Because of his remarkable situation, Drummond qualified for financial support from the I.G. Lewis Student Emergency Fund, a fund that provides short-term assistance for SAIT students who experience a financial crisis that threatens the successful completion of their studies. SAIT’s Lamb Learner Success Centre provided Drummond with grocery store voucher gift cards and even managed to secure him a room in SAIT residence for the completion of his program.

“I could have potentially failed my classes, and I was pretty stressed out with the whole situation and being away from my family,” he remembers. “So, it was a massive relief. It helped tremendously. I was able to cook meals for myself and have basic security.”

Drummond successfully completed his first intake and is now back in Edmonton with his family, ready to take the next step in his journey towards his Refrigeration Technician ticket.

Get set for Giving Day

SAIT’s Giving Day is Oct. 19-20, 2022, and one of the priority areas of support is the I.G. Lewis Student Emergency Fund. Find out how you can get involved and transform the lives of students like Drummond at

*Andrew’s name has been changed for issues of privacy.

a view of the moutains and stream in between

Oki, Âba wathtech, Danit'ada, Tawnshi, Hello.

SAIT is located on the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the people of Treaty 7 which includes the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Îyârhe Nakoda of Bearspaw, Chiniki and Goodstoney.

We are situated in an area the Blackfoot tribes traditionally called Moh’kinsstis, where the Bow River meets the Elbow River. We now call it the city of Calgary, which is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.