NAIT Wellness and Adversity Profiles

by | Nov 14, 2018 | Featured, News, Uncategorized

Willow Shelley

Title: NAIT Students’ Association Vice President Student Services

What you wouldn’t know about this person:

When someone is organized, a high achiever and a perfectionist we often would not guess that they have ADHD. However, growing up Willow Shelley started to notice something wasn’t right in high school, despising being perceived as a “smart girl” by teachers, she started to struggle.

In her first year in university, she was failing all her courses so she went to student services where she was diagnosed. Although initially she felt depressed about the diagnosis, the support from school helped put real tools in place to give her solutions to some issues she was facing.Within the year she went from all F’s to straight A’s with one B!

Advice and overcoming:

Some strategies that help Shelley include: Tutoring, specialized textbooks and essay writing software, medications, individual self-care routine.


“Find a way to love yourself in the struggle, and reaching out to people who love you and remind you, you’re loved,” said Shelley when asked her number one piece of advice.


Dave Sawchuk

Title: NAIT Radio and Television Instructor

What you wouldn’t know about this person:

Dave Sawchuk is one of the most friendly and extroverted people around. Along with being an instructor at NAIT, Sawchuk works with the Movember Foundation and is vocal about the fact that many men die too young from treatable problems, both mental and physical.

In 2015, he lost his uncle, Dale Sawchuk, to depression. Along with being a father and a husband, his uncle was a pillar of his community and one of the most optimistic and caring people Dave has ever known. After this, he dedicated his time to bringing attention to not only the physical health of men, but the mental health as well.

Advice and Overcoming:

Sawchuk said the main things he did after his uncle passed was that he sought to educate himself and better understand what people with mental health issues are going through, and he joined the Movember Foundation Edmonton board to help bring awareness to men’s health.


“Just because I can’t see someone’s symptoms doesn’t mean they might not be struggling or suffering, so for me it’s been about being more understanding and empathetic and learning to listen,” said Sawchuk on what has changed most for him since his uncle’s passing.


Stefanie Guillard

Title: Student Counselling Assistant

What you wouldn’t know about this person:

The first face you will see when you walk into Student Counselling at NAIT is Stefanie Guillard. Her cheerful disposition and smile warm the room. She also has depression and anxiety.

For a long time she thought about why she had this. What caused it? Then she had to let that go and focus on finding what brings her joy. Guillard explains she didn’t choose this but gets to learn how to navigate it, which gives her a unique perspective working for Student Counselling.

Guillard talked about the importance of talking about what is going on with someone trusted, and letting go thinking you have to get better on your own.

Advice and overcoming:

She explained medication helps but if you are not doing other things such as eating well, being active, limiting social media scrolling, and mindfulness breathing exercises, it doesn’t help as much.

Some resources that helped Guillard,are: Feeling Good by David D. Burns, M.D; Uncovering Happiness by Elisha Goldstein, PhD. Tracking her mood on the app: Daiyo Finding a professional that you are comfortable
being honest with, even if it means switching a few times. She also suggests students check out:


“Pain is not optional in life but suffering is, and so you don’t have to suffer necessarily, there are things you can do to reduce suffering but you do have to find the things that work for you,” said Guillard about powerful advice from a psychologist.


Kenneth Smith

Title: Student, Business Administration Program

What you wouldn’t know about this person:

Kenneth, or Ken Smith, is in his first year of the Business Administration program at NAIT. He was born with what is called an arachnoid cyst; a hollow mass that affects certain regions of the brain. He said he has had to live his life with essentially half a brain.

Smith said he did not start talking until around five or six years old, but he did learn sign language and took speech therapy. He finds when people learn of his disability, they sometimes assume he is lazy or gets special treatment. But Smith said he pushes himself to achieve his goals without special treatment or laziness, and has his Red Seal in cooking, which is a universally-recognized certification of apprenticeship in Canada. Smith is looking to possibly open a restaurant some day.

Advice and Overcoming:

Along with the speech therapy and sign language, Smith puts his full effort into what he does despite having a disability and proves that he can achieve his goals.


“A lot of people put me down and I prove to them that I can actually do what they tell me and what they want me to,” Kenneth Smith, on how his condition has affected him.


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