The Education Fund / Bursary
The Edmonton Chapter of Construction Specifications Canada with the help of Keith Robinson and various Sponsors have created the Stephanie Wertz Education Fund (SWEF) Bursary in the memory of Stephanie Wertz who was passionate about specifications and a great friend to CSC. This cash award is presented to a deserving student in the Architectural Technology program at NAIT and now is being expanded to include the Construction Technology and Interior Designprogram.
The Bursary; in the amount of $1500 per year, is awarded to a student that shows exemplary academic achievement and demonstrated financial need, and who has submitted an essay indicating their commitment to construction communication and documentation.
Future of the Bursary and How You Can Help
The bursary fund is currently sufficient to perpetuate the memory of Stephanie for the next few years or so. The CSC Edmonton Chapter is creating a number of events to top up the fund on an annual basis with the intent to make this award for many more years into the future.
Thank you to everyone that contributed.
If interested in providing a donation or provide fundraising ideas contact Lisa Towe (All contact information located on the Executive Contact List)
About Stephanie Wertz [1984 – 2011]
My name is Keith Robinson – I am a specification writer, and I hired Stephanie Wertz just after she graduated from the Architectural Technology program offered by the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. Stephanie had a form of Muscular Dystrophy that had gradually reduced her mobility, and by the time I met her she was pretty much confined to a wheelchair. This did not limit her experiences of the bigger world, she was engaged to an amazing man at the time of her unfortunate demise. Steph was gregarious and constantly made friends and put people at ease with her condition.
I remember the days that lead up to hiring Steph, and I can honestly say that I was worried about taking on this new apprentice. She was very junior to what I would normally look for in this position:
- My first concern centered on the learning curve she would be on, not to mention the workload- stratospheric!
- My second concern was that there is an aspect of our work that requires direct exposure to construction sites, how would we overcome that?
- One of the partners asked me to reconsider and look beyond what I took to be limitations to see how we could provide the missing elements to her career development.
- And there started one of the most memorable protégée/mentor relationships of my career.
She was intelligent and enthusiastic, and became well respected within the local community in her chosen vocation as a specifier. We worked together for almost 4 years sharing a typical cubicle office environment; sitting separated by a bookcase table top, literally spending our waking work life sitting eye-to-eye to each other:
- From this unique perspective, her wheelchair became non-visible... not invisible, but no more obvious than a curl of hair or the colour of a person's eyes.
- The sorts of things you notice about people that make them who they are, the essential essence that makes people unique.
She not only met the challenges of her newly chosen career – she excelled in so many different ways. All we had to do was provide a platform to launch from – she did all the rest herself and started many initiatives that we continue with our new employees to this day including:
- Spending lunch hours sitting together, exchanging e construction and materials information in big healthy scoops.
- Rehearsing the steps interview sales representatives, project managers and designers to dig into the real meat of what was being presented or required for a project or product.
- The contract administration team would take pictures and videos from site and bring them back to the office – and presenting the information in Heckle and Jeckle format as we collectively cluck over various observations.
Stephanie took all this in stride and it was a very short time later that she started to manage her own tasks and incorporate that new found knowledge into her work. Also found ways to include her on our road trips. Furthest one was to Halifax, where she made a huge impression on the specification writing community. She was responsible for inspiring other senior specifiers to take a chance on hiring a more junior person.
She also provided inspiration to new graduates from several different technical schools to take a chance on a career path they may not have otherwise considered. It is because of this activity that the Stephanie Wertz Education Fund was established, with its directive to promote specification writing as a viable occupation and a means to acquiring skills that lead to improved employment opportunities for students attending NAIT’s Architectural Technology or Construction Technology programs.
Stephanie died on March 4, 2011 as a consequence of heart complications at the age of 27. Who knows what she could have accomplished had she lived, but through her passing the Stephanie Wertz Education Fund is offering others the chance to follow in her footsteps and establish new challenges in their careers.