Awards Help Students Grow Their Tomorrows

Sask Polytech Growing Tomorrow Fund provides support for students to rise above barriers and achieve academic success

Jesse White is a good representative of today’s Saskatchewan Polytechnic student—career focused yet engaged in his community and always open to new opportunities. He’s currently enrolled in the inaugural class of Sask Polytech’s new Bachelor of Applied Management degree program, having already graduated from Sask Polytech with a Media Arts Production diploma in 2018. He’s also wrapping up his first term as President of the Saskatchewan Polytechnic Students’ Association (SPSA), where he advocates for students and works to provide a student perspective on fair, safe and social education.

But it’s his own student experience that has Jesse talking about something close to his heart—the importance of donor support for Sask Polytech student awards.

“I got a job at a second-hand store in Saskatoon after high school. I didn’t plan on staying long, but the job grew into a management position and a comfortable income, so I stayed,” Jesse says. “But being a store manager wasn’t part of my long-term plan. I’ve always wanted a career working behind the scenes in the media industry. So in 2016, I decided to enroll in the Media Arts Production program at Sask Polytech.”

At 24, Jesse packed up his Saskatoon apartment and moved north to attend classes full-time at Sask Polytech’s Prince Albert campus. Shifting from a regular pay cheque to a fixed student income was daunting.

“That first year, I wasn’t eligible for student loans, so I got a line of credit to help with living expenses, while my parents helped with tuition,” Jesse says. “During my second year, I was looking at having to increase my line of credit. I didn’t want to take on more debt, but I thought I could manage the year with the money I’d saved working three jobs throughout the summer, as well as working part-time through the year [including working as SPSA Vice President, Prince Albert campus].”

As the year progressed and his line of credit got thinner, Jesse found himself working more and more hours at a part-time job to make ends meet. “Long story short, I bombed one of my projects because I was working too much,” Jesse says.

Jesse was determined to finish his program on a strong academic note. He cut his expenses to the bone so he could focus on school. Just as the situation was becoming dire, a Sask Polytech student support staff member told him about the Student Emergency Fund.

“I didn’t even know about the fund” Jesse says. “When I applied, I was lucky enough to qualify for emergency support. I also received two scholarship awards that helped tremendously—one was an academic achievement scholarship and one was a Student Innovation Award. These awards meant I didn’t have to take on more debt and I could focus on school. I graduated from Media Arts production with an 89.98 GPA.”

Jesse also received the Student Outstanding Citizenship Award for Prince Albert. “That was really important to me, because it said the time I spent at the Prince Albert campus meant something; that I had an impact,” Jesse says.

As of the spring of 2021, Jesse is completing year one of Sask Polytech’s Bachelor of Applied Management degree program, which is delivered entirely online evenings and weekends. He looks forward to adding a bachelor’s degree to his technical diploma in 2022, an investment he believes will open even more doors in the media world.

Looking back on his Sask Polytech journey to date, both from his perspective as a student in need and as the SPSA president representing students, Jesse sees donor support for student awards as critical. “Donor-sponsored student awards help students navigate financial barriers so they can focus on school. Financial stress makes you wonder if you’re going to be able to finish the year or if you’ll have to quit to support yourself. Having some of the financial strain taken off is extremely helpful,” Jesse says.

“If I could talk to the donors who helped make my student awards possible, I would start by saying thank you. But I’d also want them to know that their donation had an impact—and will continue to have an impact. It’s indescribable how much awards mean to students—and students remember the people and companies that helped them out.”

Learn how you can empower student success today.

May 2021



Saskatchewan Polytechnic serves students through applied learning opportunities on Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 Territories and the homeland of the Métis.