What a life-changing injury taught this grad – and dad – about learning

June 14, 2019 | Campus Life
A couple of years ago, my son was struggling in school – he’s whip-smart, but gets easily frustrated – and during the process of looking into that, we discovered that we both have ADHD. So I began learning more about how our brains work and what we need to do to be successful. I wanted to show my son that even though sometimes things are tough, we could do it.

My own childhood was rough. I grew up on the streets and dropped out of school when I was quite young – I was convinced I was stupid. I eventually battled my way through technical school, earned my ticket and joined the Canadian Forces. Being deployed to Manitoba, Calgary and High River for flood relief, and to Slave Lake and British Columbia to help fight fires were the most satisfying parts of my career.

My time in the military taught me that I need to have a job with meaning – I need to do something that helps people. After a life-changing injury, I had to figure out how to do that from a desk, so I started by taking a career compatibility test. Emergency dispatch was at the very bottom of the list, but the moment I saw it I knew there was no other choice for me.

Going back to school was daunting. I managed to pass the high school courses I needed to get into the Emergency Communication and Response program at MacEwan, but I still walked through the door on the first day just hoping I was smart enough to pass. It wasn’t easy. I was in a lot of pain and came home every day with work I needed to do. My wife worked hard to keep our family on track – and to help me stay on task – and every night my son and I would talk about what we did and how we were going to do better tomorrow.

As I neared the end of my program, I did a placement with Alberta Health Services EMS dispatchers. I sat with my headset on listening to calls, and realized that every time the dispatcher hung up the phone, they had helped someone. It reinforced that this is the work I’m meant to do.

– Jason Betts, Emergency Communication and Response grad, Class of Spring 2019

Jason says that receiving an unexpected scholarship made going back to school easier for him and his family. We’re so grateful to the generous donors and supporters who invest in our students through scholarships, awards and bursaries. Learn more about how you can support our students, our programs and our campus.


Meet the Class of 2019

Jason is one of more than 2,200 people who earned the privilege of walking across the stage at the university’s Spring Convocation ceremonies.

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