Helping veteran students transition to a new career

Tom Morin

In the summer of 1993, Tom Morin (Instrumentation Engineering Technology '97) was serving in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) as an electronics technician in the former Yugoslavia. During this time, the CAF was engaged in the most combat since the Korean War.  “It was an intense tour. Although I valued the opportunity to serve under those conditions, I had been in the military for ten years and I began thinking about creating a new working life when I returned to Canada,” Morin remembers.

Following discharge, Morin traveled to Northern Alberta to work on the oil rigs. After going through a life-threatening incident on the job, he signed up for SAIT’s Industrial Instrumentation Technology program. Since graduating, Morin has honed his leadership skills, cultivating a career path that centres his expertise in project management and team development. Today, you can find him teaching in the  SAIT School of Business.

Morin’s experiences moving from military service into a civilian career through education at SAIT inspired him and his wife, Joanna Walewski, to launch the Veterans Achievement Award as a financial resource for veteran students.

Supporting the shift to civilian life 

Morin knows firsthand that adapting to life outside the military is uniquely challenging. The social, psychological and financial barriers for veterans transitioning into civilian life can be significant.

“It’s not always easy for veterans to translate the skills they learned in the military and talk about the work they did in a way that an employer in the civilian world would understand,” Morin says. “When you leave the military to return to civilian life, you leave behind the daily support and understanding of people who know exactly what you’ve been through. For me, that was terrifying.”

The Veterans Achievement Award aims to provide financial support so veteran students can begin a new chapter with more confidence. Morin also hopes that the award will spark awareness and help connect members of the veteran community at SAIT.

Setting veterans up for success

The Veterans Achievement Award will be available for students who are veterans of the CAF in the 2024/25 academic year. If no veterans apply, the award will be extended to regular serving members of the CAF and then to members of the reserve forces if no serving members apply. Morin and Walewski’s initial donation of $3,000 ensures that $1,000 is awarded to one student over the next three years. Their short-term goal is to raise $20,000 to establish the award as an ongoing, $1,000 per year endowment. The couple’s ultimate vision is to raise $140,000 for an endowment that would enable the award to cover a year of tuition for recipients for generations to come. 

Learn more about the Veterans Achievement Award and make a gift to support veteran students.