Ian Vaughn’s love of helping both people and the environment came together when somebody sent him a link to the Energy Sustainability Engineering Technology program at NSCC in Middleton.
The two-year program that deals with all sorts of alternative energy generation – like solar and wind – checked all the boxes for Vaughn, but considerable financial constraints at the time almost stopped him from going.
But when the NSCC Foundation and some of its donor partners became involved, Vaughn found himself bolstered by an Efficiency Nova Scotia Bright Student Award and the means to achieve his goals.
The mature student, originally from just outside Ottawa, was drawn to the program after a career as a marine engineer in the navy and time in El Salvador where he helped people live more sustainable lives, support themselves, and become more of a community.
NSCC Middleton Principal Wayne St Amour understands Vaughn’s attraction to the course.
“I think what the program does is it translates a very important social need – a need for warmth, heat, and light – into a situation that makes it economical and reachable for people,” said St Amour.
“If you take the case of a senior in a home by themselves maybe, one of the biggest costs they face is energy, so to know that you work every day and you’re helping that individual stay at home longer, we know that that means their going to be healthier. We know that that means they’re going to be much more socially involved and capable,” he said. “It’s a real gift. It’s like a job that keeps giving back because you know all the work you do once you have those skills is all about helping people for real.”
“Throughout my whole life I was always into the environment in general, and helping out people,” Vaughn said. “This program kind of like just set off a bunch of bells. It was everything I was looking for in my life – just how to live more sustainably and show people that there are many alternatives to -- without changing your lifestyle -- how to live and how to save our environment for generations to come.”
Vaughn spoke at the NSCC’s Make Way event March 12, a celebration of the NSCC Foundation’s province-wide fundraising project that raised more than $32 million for students. Between the NSCC’s sites in Middleton and Lawrencetown, $252,000 was raised and almost all of it goes directly to students like Vaughn. At the Kingstec campus $663,000 was secured.
Michelle Bussey, director of development for NSCC Foundation and in charge of the campaign, said that was the goal.
“It’s not for bricks and mortar, it’s meant to work with community partners, with donors and try and support students in any way that they need, whether it’s a bursary or a scholarship, sometimes emergency aid. If they kind of find themselves in a situation and they just need $100 to fix their car or something like that. That’s really the focus of the campaign -- to help all the students in any of their financial needs they have.”
Vaughn was one of those students, but not the only one. Scores of students benefit from money raised by the foundation and the Make Way campaign. While students at the Lawrencetown and Middleton campuses will benefit directly from the $252,000, they can also tap into the larger provincial funds. There are province-wide bursaries for example, and local students can still access a lot of that money too.
“If it’s the difference between a student being able to pay their rent or get to their work place -- and a little bit of money versus graduating -- then that’s what the urgent aid program is for and that is what we use it specifically for -- to help those students with urgent issues.” -- Wayne St Amour
“It’s just the $252,000 is only for this campus,” Bussey said.
The campaign also raised in-kind gifts and equipment. COGS was the recipient of maps to help with some of their programming.
She said the first-ever province-wide campaign exceeded expectations.
“I really think the community stepped up and said ‘you are our college and we want to be there to support you. We want the students to keep coming through. We want them to stay and work and live and grow in Nova Scotia, and hopefully in the communities that they’re going to school in.’” she said.
Quality of Life
“It’s really about the economics and the quality of life of Nova Scotia – the future of Nova Scotia,” Bussey said. “So I think that a lot of the donors and companies saw this as their opportunity to help make that happen as well.”
She said companies might have successions problem, skill shortages, or new technology that would need a new type of labour coming up.
“So we tried to work very closely with them and build a bit more of a direct, targeted approach, letting them kind of be part of the selection and do a sponsorship,” she said. “So they got to interview and select the students that were getting the awards, and in return the students kind of went and worked with them upon graduation. So it was a very deliberate kind of start-to-finish approach to help the students find jobs but also to help the companies find employees.”
“We’re really thrilled that we got support from so many donors, supporters, and partners, volunteers, our students, staff all contributed. As a campus we raised $252,000, so that’s both here in Middleton and also at COGS in Lawrencetown,” said St Amour. “That breaks down into four different categories to help students – and it’s all invested to support students.”
Did you know?
The $252,000 raised for Middleton and Lawrencetown breaks down to:
-- $181,000 for student awards and urgent aid.
-- $63,000 is for centres of expertise, such as COGS.
-- $8,000 is for leading edge instructional equipment, and those are things that help teachers teach better.
Community – it’s in the name
MIDDLETON, N.S. - The principal of NSCC in Middleton and Lawrencetown believes the school’s moniker
says it all.
“There are probably about 125 colleges in Canada now and there are only six that have ‘community’ in the name, and we’re one of them,” said Wayne St Amour. “We’re the only college in Nova Scotia and very proud about the fact that what we do is create pathways for people.”
He pointed to the school’s new business program as an example of a stepping-stone for students.
“They work with us for a year, there’s an online component, but it’s a generalist program that will help them work in community, get a job that will help them and help companies in our area.”
He said it’s basically only a year worth of investment and gives students the opportunity to jump into a diploma program or potentially a degree program later if they’re interested.
“But what we see is students that study here locally – about 90 per cent of them stay here locally,” St Amour said. “So that investment is really sticky. That investment helps students who choose to study at a local college the opportunity to stay in that location and have a work life as well.”
The college and the community are both winners because of their relationship to each other.
“One of the things that we really espouse at the college is that students get important skills that can help local economies and communities,” he said, “and at the same time we really see great potential for them to become entrepreneurs as well. So students can succeed with their studies here, for example in the plumbing program or from our ESAT program (Energy Sustainability Engineering Technology) and then either start their own company or go work at a local company.”
In the end, everyone benefits, he said.
“So all the way around the community wins, the economy wins, and in many ways our social situation is improved all the way around,” St Amour said.