Sask. Polytechnic dinner opens up P.A. students to opportunity

Director, donor and alumni relations for Sask. Polytechnic, Pam McLellan (left), and keynote speaker, Gary Merasty (right), socialize at the Business and Industry Dinner. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald

The Business and Industry Dinner on Thursday evening intended to relieve the fear off of student’s at Prince Albert’s Saskatchewan Polytechnic campus.

While socializing over drinks and a good meal, they interacted with potential future employers.

Students registered for the event free of charge thanks to the main sponsor, Graham Group, with all of the other proceeds going towards student awards.

Teri Cook went into the workforce straight out of high school.

Now a mother and wife, she said going back to a student lifestyle was intimidating.

“I’ve got kids who have sports or activities, I’ve got supper and laundry and all that good stuff that goes with having a family, so we’re trying to make sure that I can commit,” she said.

But events like this give her reassurance that she’s enhancing her family’s life.

“You want success and something like this to maybe open a few doors that weren’t there before, it takes a little bit of pressure off,” said Cook.

This year’s keynote speaker was alumni Gary Merasty—chief development officer of the North West Company, the largest employer of Indigenous people in Canada.

He’s also a former two-time grand chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC).

Merasty graduated from Sask. Poly in Saskatoon in 2000 from industrial mechanics.

“Some of the business model of educational institutions is to put bums on a seat and generate revenue for them. I think Sask. Poly has really taken the approach I think since its beginning to be responsive to the industry, to businesses, to train people,” he said.

Having received an honourary diploma from Sask. Poly and both the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and the Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan, he offered some advice to students.

“I think really focusing on what motivates you, then you end up with success. If you chase fame and success and money, you’ll never reach it,” he said.

Director, donor and alumni relations for Sask. Poly, Pam McLellan, said over the years, the dinners have generated about $2 million for student awards between its four campuses.

“It’s a real boost for the student. It supports them financially and, of course, introduces them to industry of representatives. Every year we end up with a number of students who are offered a job on the spot or who are asked to please come and see us after you graduate,” said McLellan.

The institution also has campuses in Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Regina.

This is the 11th annual Business and Industry Dinner in Prince Albert, which gathered about 160 people.