"If NAIT was a person, I’d hug them"

Published on August 22, 2023

Student awards power multi-faceted woman 

Teri-Lynn Adams has many titles attached to her name. She is a NAIT alum (Business Administration - Management diploma ’22), a current NAIT student pursuing her degree in Business Administration - Management, a NAIT staffer (Aboriginal Recruitment Specialist) and a single mom.  

Hailing from the Paul First Nation, an Indigenous community west of Edmonton, Teri-Lynn was taught by her father that education was the key to unlocking opportunities in this world. He instilled in her the notion that if she wants to make a change (in her community, circumstances, or nation), she must get an education.  

Despite her father’s motivational words, and own personal determination, Teri-Lynn ran into issues when attempting to start her post-secondary journey. “My band wasn’t in a financial position to fund my education,” says Teri-Lynn. “At first I took a transitional program at the University of Alberta and then studied business management for 1 year at MacEwan University using savings and with help from family.” 

After her year at MacEwan, Teri-Lynn decided to work on the oil rigs (in camp) to save the money she would need to complete a diploma. Teri-Lynn ended up working there for 5 years before setting her sights back on education with a 2-year stint in Phoenix, Arizona at the Golf Academy of America where she studied golf operations and played competitively. “I returned to Canada and began studying at NAIT in 2019.” 

“My educational focus has always been business administration management because of some of the challenges I’ve seen my community go through. I want to understand and help with the business, financial and stewardship aspects of band management.” 

NAIT was an obvious choice for Teri-Lynn  

“I did my research and found that NAIT’s flexibility would allow me to do courses online. Also, the age range of students was enticing. I knew there would be other returning students there. Plus, with NAIT’s laddering, I would be able to finish my diploma, get a credential, and then continue on to my bachelor’s degree – which I’m doing now.” 

How student awards played an integral part in Teri-Lynn’s success 

Teri-Lynn applied and got accepted into NAIT and initially, used the money she had saved to pay for tuition and supplies.   

Her funding strategy changed dramatically towards the end of her first semester. “I received an email from NAIT stating that bursary and grants applications were open, so I filled out an application and submitted it. Within about a month, I got a notification that I would be receiving an award!” 

“I was so astonished by this! Receiving the student award allowed me to put my previous savings toward rent and any emergency items.” 

When the email prompt came again, Teri-Lynn didn’t hesitate to apply. “Soon, I learned that I was the successful applicant for another student award, and another one, and so on. I received 6 student awards directly from NAIT and 5 more through NAIT applications while studying for my diploma.” 

Teri-Lynn also received 3 awards from other organizations. “Combining them all together, I didn't have to pay out of my own pocket for school – minus a couple of little things like NAIT memorabilia I bought for myself.” 

“I remember crying a lot during this time. I always knew I had the willpower to attend post-secondary, but the question in my mind was always ‘could I do this financially?’ Student awards provided a way to make my educational dreams come true.” 

In addition to the financial support the awards provided, they also opened space to accommodate life-changes, namely becoming a single parent. “I was wondering how I would make it with the increased cost of caring for a child but found that receiving NAIT student awards relieved a lot of burden, barriers, and stresses for me. I did not have to go to look for a job right after giving birth and was able to focus on my recovery, studies, and daughter.” 

With the costs of her diploma covered, and her oil rig savings largely still intact, Teri-Lynn did not have to take another pause to save additional funds before moving on to completing her degree. “I have been able to continue uninterrupted.” 

“For me, there’s no way that sending letters of thank you is enough because now I'm no longer just doing it [completing post-secondary studies] for me. I'm doing it for my daughter, my village and the donors who want to see me succeed.” 

Teri-Lynn has plans to laud all the donors who made her student awards possible once she graduates with her degree. “I don’t want to give away the details of the surprise, but I feel that what I plan to do won’t even be enough because I don’t know if they understand how much they’ve impacted me. Words cannot express the weight that left my shoulders and the warmth that fills my heart to know that other people believe in me. I couldn't do it without NAIT and the donors at NAIT.” 

Student becomes staff  

As she was nearing the end of her diploma studies in 2022, Teri-Lynn spotted three interesting job postings on the NAIT website. The first interview that she attended was for Aboriginal Recruitment Specialist – a position she was ultimately offered.  

“Getting this job has allowed me to start my career and continue my educational journey [towards a degree] at the same time. It’s quite a unique experience, and when I give tours to prospective students, I can say with confidence and experience that NAIT allows almost anybody to get a quality education.”  

“My favorite part of my job as an Aboriginal Recruitment Specialist is giving presentations to prospective students, counsellors and parents, knowing about NAIT not only from a staff perspective, but also from my personal experience as a NAIT student.” 

Add coach to that order! 

Through conversation with co-workers, the right people found out that Teri-Lynn plays golf at a competitive level. “I was introduced to the golf head coach, Tyler Leicht. After sending him my golf resume and speaking with him, he offered me a coaching position. I’m happy to say that in September, I take on another role at NAIT as the assistant coach for the new women’s golf team.” 

“For me, working at NAIT was a dream come true. It reinforces that dreams are achievable. You just have to have patience and be willing to take a leap of faith when the opportunity comes. NAIT [the people, instructors, co-workers, fellow students, donors, support services] really allowed me to foster a strong believe in myself and continues to do so every day.” 

“I’m so grateful. If NAIT was a person, I’d hug them.” 


How to Give Student Awards and Funding Options