Thriving third beginning for energy student

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May 15, 2019
Lakeland College is a “win, win, win” says Dale Mizera.
Dale Mizera head shot wearing Rustlers jacket and hat
The 46-year-old, from Viking, Alta., hit the restart button to pursue a career in the energy sector. After attending Lakeland’s Open House in 2017, he enrolled in the heavy oil power engineering program (HOPE).
 
In September 2018 and hit the ground running. Since then Mizera's has excelled in his first year of HOPE.
 
He earned a spot on the Dean’s List and secured a summer placement position with Cenovus Energy after a successful practicum placement with the energy company. 
 
The amateur curler went from curling on his hometown rink to playing for the Rustlers’ Curling team at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Championships in Fredericton, NB. Mizera accomplished all of this while living in the Lloydminster campus residence and travelling more than 140 km every weekend to visit his family. 
 
“It’s been quite a year. It’s crazy to describe what I fit into this past year. I’ve been fortunate to have this experience. I would like to thank the instructors and all support staff at Lakeland for being genuine in the care they give to their students to excel.  They’ve all been extremely supportive.
 
“Thank you to my curling coaches Dusty and Chris, and the Lakeland Athletic department. Alan, for the time spent at the rink and behind the scenes with the many arrangements that were done for us this year.
 
"Lastly and most important, thank you to my wife Nancy and kids Michael, Sadie and Kevin for the patience and support they have given me during my time at Lakeland College,” Mizera says.
 
In Mizera’s experience, when one door closes another one opens. 
 
He was employed with a local construction company as a carpenter from 1992-94 and completed his first-year carpentry apprenticeship at Lakeland in ‘94. 
 
When that chapter closed, he partnered with his parents to operate their family grocery business, Viking IGA, for 20 years until they sold the business.
 
Looking for work to provide for his family, Mizera agreed to the lead hand position on a friend’s grain farm, R & D Nearing Farms. One year turned into four years of working in agriculture.
 
He says he entertained the idea of pursuing a career in the energy sector after a friend, who is a 1st Class power engineer, explained he’d excel in the field.
 
“Because of my experience with some of the systems like the compressor and refrigeration systems at the grocery store, my friend said I might like the industry and do fairly well,” Mizera explained. 
 
At Lakeland, Mizera considered himself to be no different than the ‘fresh out of high school’ student beside him. “Age is just a number,” he says. “Everyone was starting at square one.” 
 
Like any Lakeland first-year HOPE student, Mizera completed his 240 hours of steam time through a practicum placement. He says he had a great experience Cenovus Energy. Not only did they open up another summer student position for him after his three-month practicum, they also worked around his curling schedule so he could compete at nationals.
 
The Rustlers men’s curling team finished in fifth. At nationals, Mizera’s parents flew to New Brunswick to watch him play while his family watched on the big screen at home.
 
“When we arrived at the arena in Fredericton, we were in awe. The whole experience was flattering for a small-town team like us. I didn’t feel too high strung, if anything, I was relaxed. We played the same way we've always played,” he says. 
 
Mizera says he is looking forward to his second year. By working for Cenovus in the summer, he’ll be accumulating his second-year steam time. He has no clear sights on what he wants to do after graduation but would like to commit to a company long term.
 
“The benefits make sense to me, working hard and working my way up the ladder. I did it with my parents at the grocery store and it was a great 20 years,” he says.
 
Photos: (Top-Bottom) 1. Dale Mizera, wearing a Rustlers hat, kick-started a new career path at Lakeland. 2. Rustlers men's curling team played their way to a bronze medal finish at the ACAC Curling Championships. 3. Mizera with his HOPE classmates and instructors. 4. At the CCAA Curling Championships, Mizera and his teammates traded their brooms for lobsters. 5. Mizera engages with one of his classmates during a lecture. Earning a 3.5 or higher landed Mizera on the 2018 Dean's list.
What Students Say
With the Student-Managed Farm you learn to be accountable for what you’re doing and the choices you make. You get an understanding of what it’s like to be out in industry or on a farm making decisions that count.

– Anthony Biglieni

Agribusiness Class of 2006

What Alumni Say
Lakeland College has been a integral partner in growing our own through the school of business. As an alumnus of the college, I have first-hand learning experience in the school of business. The professors welcome Servus Credit Union to facilitate classes in the Business Ethics course each year.

– Sandi Unruh

Senior Human Resources Consultant

What Faculty & Staff Say
Vertex has had great experience bringing on students from Lakeland College. We have found the Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Management) program to provide students with good academic knowledge of the environmental industry and the criteria that governs the land reclamation

– Sean Fuller B.Sc., P.Ag.

Vice President, Environmental Services, Vertex.

What Alumni Say
There is no way I would be where I am today without Lakeland College. It inspired me to be a better person and to get a job in something I love doing. I am so thankful I had such a great experience at Lakeland and I hope future students do as well.

– Danielle Gaboury

Business studies, Class of 2016.

What Students Say
I recommend the UT program to people all the time. The smaller setting Lakeland offers, is very conducive to learning. It's less intimidating than the larger universities and allows for more class interactions and discussions

– Kelly Mykytuk

2nd year UT student, 2017-18

What Alumni Say
I have loved my experience at Lakeland. The teachers are personable, and quick to share about their own experiences. They encouraged me to run with my own ideas and see what would happen; they got excited about my designs, which gave me the confidence to do my best and be more creative.

– Payton Ramstead

Class of 2016, Interior Design student.

What Alumni Say
At Lakeland College you are guaranteed to have time out of the classroom where you can put everything you learned together and actually see that what you’re learning is relevant.

– Alisa Brace

Animal Health Technology, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The friendships I made, the experiences we were provided with, and the welcoming atmosphere of the Vermilion Campus made my time at Lakeland extremely valuable and memorable

– Grayden Kay

Animal Science & Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
Lakeland College was a learning environment unlike any other school. It allows students to learn beyond the classroom, and staff and faculty genuinely want to see students succeed. It’s a place where you can feel comfortable asking questions and where everyone has a place and fits in.

– Carson Reid

Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The instructors were the highlight of my time at Lakeland. It made a huge impact on my college experience to have instructors who challenged, encouraged, and believed in me.

– Jessica Cadrain

Child & Youth Care, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
At the beginning of my first year, I was really stressed out as I felt I had no artistic ability. But with the instruction and time put in by the interior design faculty, I was able to develop my artistic abilities. Now I am fully confident in and exceeding well in the artistic side of this career!

– Naomi Mason

Interior Design Technology, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I just feel like you get the best education at Lakeland, especially from the time that the instructors can actually spend with you. I like the class sizes too – everything’s been great about my Lakeland experience.

– Dean Coulson

Heavy Equipment Technician, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I do give Lakeland College credit for reigniting my interest and even preparing me for Miss Rodeo Canada. Lakeland helped me to grow enough to have the confidence to think I could take on that role and become that person. I think that I have and I am really grateful for that

– Ali Mullin

Agribusiness, class of 2014, former Miss Rodeo Canada.

What Alumni Say
I feel the professors at Lakeland actually prepared me for the profession. It’s impossible to be just a number here when there are 12 students in all of your classes. When the school advertised small class sizes, they actually meant it.

– Stephen Mark Visser

Real Estate Appraisal and Assessment, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I was involved in the president’s gala in April where I was an emcee for the evening, it was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun doing it and would recommend it to everyone.”

– Lucas Tetreault

HOPE Power Engineering, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
I would recommend Lakeland College for the simple fact that it's for everybody. As a mature student who went back to school much later than his 18th year, I was immediately accepted, and not ostracized in the least

– Donald James Shaw

Accounting Major, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
All the hands-on learning was great and very helpful once placed into the industry. Having clients leave with a smile after each service assured me that I was in the right field of work. I would recommend Lakeland to anyone.

– Courtnee Coolidge

Esthetician, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The professors care so much about their students at Lakeland and are able to know each and every one of them by name, so much so that they are able to nominate a ton of students for awards.

– Stephanie Wakefeild

University Transfer, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
They really put you in the lead at Lakeland. Lakeland cares about its students, empowers them, and gives them opportunities to achieve their goals. I don’t see Lakeland as a stepping stone or a first step – I see it as a bridge and an integral part of my education.

– Alyssa Wells

University Transfer, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
I wanted to get experience in the field of assessment as it would give me exposure to what it’s like day to day. It was an invaluable experience as I find it hard to imagine what it would be like working in a particular field or area until I’m doing the work.

– Sheldon Farrell

Real estate appraisal and assessment, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
In the campus spa, they give you time to work with each client so nothing is rushed and you’re able to concentrate on providing the best service you can to your client.

– Daphney Couturier

Esthetician, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
It’s going to be a lot easier to start our first jobs having this experience and having been able to build our confidence in the campus spa. I love that we get to have this opportunity.

– Darby Watchel

Esthetician, Class of 2017.

What Employers Say
Lakeland is a great place to find employees. The college provides real world training that equips soon-to-be employees with knowledge and people skills that are highly sought after in the agriculture industry these days.

– Dustin Dinwoodie

Key Account Manager – Western Canada Arysta LifeScience