Inspiring Success: NIEEF CIBC - Wyatt Draycott

Former surveyor much happier with his return to school

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Contributor

Wyatt DraycottAlmost a year after taking the plunge and opting for a career change, Wyatt Draycott still finds his decision to be a nerve-wracking one.

Draycott, who lives in Cold Lake, Alta., had spent 20 years working as an industrial surveyor, including the last five years owning his own company.

Wyatt Draycott, Metis Nation of Alberta.

But in February of 2020, Draycott, a 46-year-old member of the Metis Nation of Alberta, called it quits in order to go back to school.

He’s now a first-year student in the Natural Resources Technology Program at Portage College in Lac La Biche, located about a 90-minute drive from his home.

Though he was making a six-figure salary, Draycott was not happy with his previous career.

“I wasn’t enjoying it anymore,” he said. “Things were getting too monotonous.”

Fortunately for Draycott, he is receiving some financial assistance now that he’s a student again.

It was recently announced he is one of eight winners of the Indigenous Scholarship Program delivered by Indspire. This national organization raises money and offers programming for Indigenous people across Canada.

The scholarship program offered a total of $44,000 this year. Draycott’s share was $5,000.

The program was funded through a partnership between the CIBC and Cando’s charitable organization called the National Indigenous Economic Education Fund.

“Every bit helps,” Draycott said of his scholarship.

Draycott said he has used the money he received to help cover his tuition and books, which amounts to almost $2,200 per semester.

His expenses also include living in a dorm when he is at school and also his gas bills, travelling to school and back home. He also paid a portion of his mortgage with the funds.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Draycott alternates between taking two weeks of remote classes and then one week of in-person labs at the college.

“Personally, I love it,” he said of his virtual sessions. “I’d love to do it all online. But there’s a lot of stuff we learn onsite that you need to be there for.”

Though he’s much happier now than in later years of his previous job, Draycott finds he continues questioning his decision to return to school.

“I still have a lot of butterflies,” he said. “I know I will take a big financial hit for the rest of my career.”

Draycott doubts he’ll have a six-figure salary again, estimating at best he’ll earn $70,000-$80,000 annually once he finds another job.

He’s hoping he’ll utilize his environmental studies and perhaps secure a job in land management or the fisheries industry.

“There’s a lot of avenues I can go into,” he said. “It will open up a lot of doors.”

Before quitting his job, Draycott had been thinking of doing so for a couple of years. In order to apply for college, it took him two years to earn his high school equivalency diploma as he had dropped out of school at age 14, while in Grade 10.

Draycott said he never envisioned being a scholarship recipient.

“Of course not,” he said. “I never win anything. Everything is always hard work for me.”