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Student with iron-will reaps rewards

Vanessa Brown is grateful to SAIT for helping her feed two of her life-long passions: athletics and health care. A native Calgarian, Vanessa is in her second year of Respiratory Therapy studies in the School of Health and Public Safety. Respiratory therapists care for patients by evaluating, treating and maintaining cardiopulmonary (heart and lung) function. 

Vanessa is also an "Ironman" athlete. She recently won in her category at the Whistler Ironman competition where she swam 4 km., biked 180 km. and ran 42 km. all within 12 hours.

Her victory qualified her to represent Canada in the World Ironman Championship in Hawaii. 

"Training for an Ironman is expensive. I was working two part time jobs to pay for school and for training for Whistler," says the 22 year old. "I received a letter telling me that I received a SAIT student award. It was just like a reward for all my hard work." 

Vanessa works equally hard on her studies. She has been interested in anatomy and in pursuing a future in that area since she was a teenager. "I loved biology and science in high school. I knew I wanted a career in health care." 

She studied kinesiology at university for two years before switching to respiratory therapy at SAIT. She says it was a great decision. 

"Class sizes at SAIT are drastically different. In university my classes were in 500 seat lecture halls. I felt like a number. Here at SAIT I'm in a class of 55 which means I have a real relationship with my instructors. I get way more one-on-one time with them." 

Vanessa received the Jack Dallas Memorial Award for leadership, citizenship, sportsmanship and athletic participation. Vanessa reflects all those values in her daily life. She says receiving this award is extremely meaningful because its namesake was an avid curler and a Shriner, just like her grandfather. 

Vanessa is just as keen to succeed in her studies at SAIT as she is to finish an Ironman competition. 

"I know I want to work in a hospital. I hope to work in pediatrics, possibly at Alberta Children's Hospital. I'll know for sure after I do my practicum," she says. "I love setting goals. I love achieving goals."