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Student yesterday, philanthropist today and tomorrow

He may have finished his two-year program at SAIT but when he graduated, Denis Koryakin didn't forget about his school. Shortly after entering the workforce, Koryakin began giving back to SAIT by becoming a donor and continuing to be involved as a volunteer. He recently joined the President's Giving Circle which makes him part of an elite group of generous SAIT donors. The 25 year old power engineer proudly made the transition from "student-volunteer" to "alumnus-philanthropist."

Koryakin, who moved to Canada from Russia with his family in 2008, says he was so appreciative of the support he received as a student, having received two scholarships, and he immediately decided to return the generosity by making a sizeable donation to SAIT student awards. Koryakin says he did it because of a tradition from his homeland.

"It's a Siberian custom that when you get something good, you give something back in return," he says.  "My two years at SAIT were the best years of my life so far. Seriously - the best!" 

Koryakin was involved in many extracurricular activities while he was a student. He volunteered for the SAIT Students' Association (SAITSA) Safewalk program, the Canadian Oil Sands' Math Minds program at the Calgary Public Library, and the Society of Petroleum Engineers. He also achieved a 3.9 Grade Point Average while he studied in the MacPhail School of Energy.

He has carried on that tradition as a volunteer for many recent SAIT events including the Alumni Awards Reception, Open House, the SAIT staff fundraising campaign and for a SAIT Centennial events for alumni and the general public.  

Koryakin personifies the values of hard work, leadership and community service promoted by SAIT. While attending as a student, Koryakin supported himself and helped out his family by holding down two part-time jobs. He says receiving student awards not only helped out financially, but also boosted his self-esteem.

"It made me proud and gave me confidence. It was acknowledgement for a lot of hard work. I am so grateful to the donors of the awards and to SAIT. I feel successful and established."

Koryakin says being the beneficiary of philanthropy makes it even more important to pass on his good fortune to others. He says he's happy to support new students and urges them to "pursue their dreams and never give up."

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