Students and industry meet at SIAST dinner

Jason Kerr
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About 200 students and business leaders gathered at the Art Hauser Centre on Wednesday for the 2014 SIAST Business and Industry Dinner.

Similar events were held at SIAST campuses around the province, where upcoming graduates are given a chance to connect with perspective employers and raise a bit of money.

“We like to be industry driven and student focused, and tonight is all about those two key client groups,” SIAST president Larry Rosia says.

Funds raised from the event go to scholarships and bursaries for deserving SIAST students.  The provincial government also helps out by matching the contributions.  SIAST estimates that they will be able to provide a combined $225,000 in scholarships and bursaries from their business and industry dinners.

“It’s all about the student life for us and doing whatever we can to help the student be successful,” Rosia says.  “If they’re struggling with finances, if we can help with that by way of scholarships, then that’s just going to help them be successful in the long run.”

Rosia was on hand to give an address and mingle with the crowd.  He highlighted the importance of the events fundraising and networking opportunities, but also talked a bit about the introduction of legislation that will see SIAST recognized as a polytechnic.

“We’re now on a national stage,” Rosia said in his opening remarks.  “We share with those polytechnics a commitment to industry responsive training and to applied research that helps employers find practical solutions to real life problems.”

Sporting good storeowner and former SIAST graduate Jason Gratton was the event’s keynote speaker.  Gratton also recently became a Melfort city councillor, and he says he’s proud to be involved in such an event.

“It’s an honour to be here, really.  To see all the students here, listening to them all networking with the employers here.  It’s a pretty neat setup.”

Gratton says the positive hands-on learning experience at SIAST helped him achieve his goals, and he wanted to let the current generation of students know that.

“It all started at SIAST,” he said.  “I made my plan there and I stuck to it, and here I am today.”

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