Dustin Stewart made a big university feel small by getting involved with student life.
Edmonton—Moving from a small-town high school to a large university in a big city has its challenges. One solution that helps students adapt to their new surroundings is simple: you make the big place feel small. That’s precisely what Dustin Stewart did, starting in his first year of engineering.
“In Grade 12, our graduating class was 37 or 38 people. You could put a face to every name,” he says. “It was a bit of a shift coming to the U of A.”
That’s something of an understatement. On June 7, Stewart will be one of 782 undergraduate students earning degrees in engineering.
Leaving his home-town of New Sarepta, about an hour’s drive southeast of Edmonton, Stewart arrived at the U of A and immediately involved himself in the engineering student community by taking part in First Year Engineering Club activities. He was elected as the Engineering Students’ Society vice president of finance and operations during his second and third years, then as AVP of marketing and advertising, before being elected ESS president during his final year of studies.
As a mechanical engineering student in the Faculty of Engineering’s Co-op program, he also took on paid placements with engineering firms, gaining valuable work experience.
Engineering students develop strong time management skills and for Stewart, balancing academics and student governance meant starting his days at about 6:30 a.m. in the ESS office, taking advantage of the quiet time to study or complete ESS duties. Stewart insists he took part in student life fully not on because of the positive impact it has on other students, but also because he was enjoying himself.
“At the end of the day I wouldn’t have been doing this if I didn’t like doing it,” says Stewart, who is now working in Edmonton an engineer-in-training with Suncor Energy Ltd. “For me, it was something I became passionate about. It was directed energy. I feel like it personalized my degree, that it gave me a more ownership over my education.”