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Sheridan recipients of the Schulich Builders Scholarships for Skilled Trades reflect on the impact of their winnings

Newsroom authorby Olivia McLeodApr 17, 2024
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Liam Pickells has known he wanted to be a welder since he was 12 years old. During a school field trip to a local college, he had the chance to use a plasma cutter—a tool that can be used to cut stainless steel and aluminum. Pickells made a nameplate for himself that day, and left the experience knowing he wanted to go into the trades one day.

Schulich BuildersThis past September, the Brampton resident became one of the first recipients of the Schulich Builders Scholarships for Skilled Trades. Launched by the Schulich Foundation in 2023, the Schulich Builders Scholarships offer $20,000 scholarships to support the cost of tuition, tools and living expenses for students studying skilled trades, granting them the financial support needed to focus on their studies.

Ten Sheridan students are among the first 100 students to be awarded the highly sought-after awards at colleges across Ontario – including Pickells, who received a $40,000 scholarship.

“It has taken a lot of the financial stress off of my shoulders which allows me to focus on my studies,” he says. “I could just go to college and do what I love – which is weld. As a direct result of that, I have had a very successful first semester. I am very proud of my accomplishments so far and I have the Schulich Builders Scholarship to thank for that.”

Schulich BuildersPickells chose Sheridan’s Welding and Fabrication Technician program not only for its close proximity to home, but due to the large number of skilled trades programs offered at the Magna School of the Skilled Trades and the school’s impressive reputation, both domestically and internationally.

“I have met some great professors who are passionate about the trades and who have been very invested in my success,” he says. “If you are dedicated and put in the work, they will ensure that you learn what you need to know and will do well.”

“I could just go to college and do what I love – which is weld. As a direct result of that, I have had a very successful first semester. I am very proud of my accomplishments so far and I have the Schulich Builders Scholarship to thank for that.”

This is a sentiment Arjan Chahal shares. Currently in the one-year Mechanical Plumbing Techniques program, Chahal says the support he has received while at Sheridan has contributed to his success. “I get sad now when the week comes to an end. I used to enjoy my weekends more, but now I’m enjoying my lab classes just as much,” he says.

Being in the trades was a priority for Chahal. In high school, he took all the skilled trades courses offered to find his preferred path. But it wasn’t until he learned about the Schulich Builders Scholarship that he took his trades exploration more seriously. The application process opened him up to the vast array of courses offered at the college level, and that, coupled with real-time plumbing issues at home, led him to discover a passion for the trade.

“This might make you laugh, but there were a few toilets at my house that weren’t working at the time and they needed to be fixed,” he reminisces. “So, I started doing research on YouTube on how to fix a fix a fill valve, install a toilet and other plumbing related techniques. And once I decided to (pursue) that interest, it’s been amazing ever since.”

Although currently enrolled in the one-year program, Chahal is already investigating transferring into the two-year Plumbing Technician program so he can further his studies. That’s something fellow scholarship recipient Haleigh Cole has already done. Cole, who started her studies in the one-year Welding Techniques program, officially transferred to the two-year Welding and Fabrication Technician program earlier this year.

The transfer is a testament to her enjoyment of the trades and the support she has felt, both at Sheridan and through the Schulich Builders Scholarship. “Having the Schulich scholarship has been very impactful for me this year due to the help it made towards my finances,” she says. “Whether it was for living needs or school needs, this scholarship helped me a lot.”

To the next cohort of students looking to apply for the Schulich Builders Scholarship, all three of have similar advice: throw your name in the ring, even if you think you won’t get it. They also have stressed that if someone has an interest in the trades, this scholarship and its application process are a great way to further explore the vast learning opportunities that are available through Ontario colleges.

“It is a good time to get into the trades. The trades involve skills that will always be in demand and there are huge employment gaps that require skilled workers,” Pickells says. “Never let anyone put limits on what you can accomplish. If you want to pursue the trades, then do it.”

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