Vanessa Kaiswatum
Vanessa Kaiswatum

Vanessa Kaiswatum

Hometown: Regina, SK
Band: Piapot First Nation, SK
Program: Practical Nursing diploma

When Vanessa made the decision to go back to school and become a nurse, she naturally thought about Sask Polytech. “I had completed my grade 12 there when it was called SIAST. I loved the communication between instructors and students. The staff were friendly and approachable,” she says. 

Vanessa - a 2021 graduate of the Practical Nursing program - enjoyed her second Sask Polytech experience as much as the first, despite the pandemic. “Prior to COVID-19, I loved the atmosphere and  the smiling faces on campus,” she says. “My favorite memory is lounging around with friends before and after a midterm or final, studying and discussing answers. It was an amazing way to learn. I would be lost without my fellow students. I love them to pieces.”

The path to her dream career hasn’t been easy. The First Nations student faced financial and personal barriers, and gratefully used library services, student awards and Indigenous Strategy services to get through. “Indigenous student services provided support and motivation when I was enduring stressful situations,” she says.

Vanessa’s biggest challenge was learning to believe in herself. “At one point, I let somebody control how I thought about myself,” she says. “That led me to withdraw from nursing. I discussed it with my program head and was referred to counselling services, which led me to reapply. Now, I’m six months away from achieving my goal!”