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Seizing opportunities

Brennan Shannon and Richard Hoang, 2020 Valedictorians

Two of SAIT’s class of 2020 valedictorians are all about seeking out and seizing the opportunity — in times of calm and in times of challenge. 

There’s power in a single step, a simple action. For Brennan Shannon and Richard Hoang, the single step of embracing opportunity and the simple action of getting involved not only helped them find their way to SAIT, but also marks their journey through to graduation.

Now, graduating from post-secondary into an uncertain future, they’re positioned to face the challenges ahead with an answer of optimism.

Setting goals, getting involved

Brennan Shannon made the decision to accept his seat in the Bachelor of Business Administration – Accounting program at SAIT from a hostel in Ireland.

Since then, he’s combined a love of travel and a lot of hard work with an instinct to get involved. The result: an incredible student experience and connections that will last a lifetime.

“My time at SAIT would have been very different if I hadn’t gotten involved and worked hard to make the most of any opportunities I came across,” he says.

Those opportunities included travelling to Zanzibar to help teach the basics of business to community members running everything from a chicken farming club to one dealing with bicycles.

"It was an awesome adventure and a formative learning experience,” says Shannon. “Through one-on-one consulting, we had the chance to provide mentorship and guidance on how to run a business operation best suited for the individual."

He also got involved a little less far afield, working with and running SAIT’s student accounting society, and representing SAIT at case competitions nationally and internationally.  

“The friends I made and the opportunity to represent the school and work with business leaders was so much fun but also very important to my overall education.”

Shannon’s next big adventure is to pursue his Chartered Professional Accountant designation with Deloitte in Calgary. He also plans to do more travelling but recognizes that’s on hold for the time being.

“The only thing that’s certain about the future is that nothing is certain,” he says. “My biggest takeaway from my time at SAIT is to take advantage of as many opportunities as you can, in everything you do.”

Inspired by possibilities

Armed with an English language degree and some experience teaching conversational English in his home country of Vietnam, Richard Hoang came to SAIT three years ago ready to study Civil Engineering Technology.

“My journey was pretty tough at first,” says Hoang. “I had to deal with a language barrier in a totally different and strange field I had never touched before.”

The appeal of the program developed from a personal interest in construction.

“I learned SAIT was one of the best schools for technical training in western Canada, and the Civil Engineering Technology program appealed to me the most since I'm into constructing houses and buildings.”

Despite a packed schedule of part-time work and school work, plus the added challenge of a completely new field of study, Hoang decided to seek out opportunities to sharpen his skills outside the classroom. At the same time, he also looked for a way to share what he could with his classmates.

These activities included being a peer supporter with Career Advancement Services, helping students find their voice as Vice President of Membership for the SAIT Sayers Toastmasters Club and representing student interests with SAIT’s Students’ Association (Saitsa) as a member of Saitsa’s Board of Directors.

“Through my involvement, I grew into a better individual which allowed me to recognize more available opportunities,” he says.

Inspired and driven by his family, academic chair, classmates and good friends, Hoang has a lot of gratitude to share. He’s also looking forward to starting his construction job with Kiewit Corporation.

“This is an unprecedented time. When I can, I’ll go home to Vietnam to see my 105-year-old great grandfather and all my loved ones, I really miss them.”

“From my experience, I know all the hardships that I face will give me the space to maximize my potential,” he says. “Whatever challenge you face and with the ongoing situation, I encourage others to choose to feel inspired.”

Virtual convocation

Celebrate the achievements of Brennan, Richard and the rest of the class of 2020 by tuning in to SAIT’s virtual Spring 2020 Convocation Ceremony.

Ready for a change? We’re here to help you adapt to the changing world of work. Explore our programs and continuing education courses.


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