A second chance leads to being honoured with SAIT's 2022 President's Medal
When Liam Hunter walked into Heritage Hall for the first time, he was looking for a second chance. A personal tragedy had shattered his post-secondary dreams at another institution, so Hunter came to SAIT not knowing where he was going or what he needed.
“It was certainly not my highest point, and I came to SAIT for that second chance,” Hunter reflects. “I wandered down the street after walking out of a final that I knew I would fail, and I remember walking into Heritage Hall to the registrar’s desk and saying, ‘I don't know what I'm going to do — my dream is kind of dying in front of my eyes.’”
The response he got at the registrar’s desk profoundly influenced Hunter’s life.
“The guy at the desk just asked me, ‘What did you get in high school?’. And I said I did well in high school, but I don't think you understand. I'm a terrible person. I've just dropped out of school. I'm a loser.”
That simple question and statement of acceptance transformed Hunter and inspired him to feel that he still had a bright future.
“It was mind-blowing to me that that was all that I needed to get a second chance,” he recalls. “I was in tears.”
After a one-year break, Hunter returned to SAIT with a significant amount of transfer credits, having spent four years in a similar program. He decided to dedicate himself to student leadership and community involvement.
“I'm an entirely different person than I was when I walked through those front doors. SAIT has been transformative to me — the experience of being a student leader has been transformative to me,” he says.
Hunter quickly involved himself with student club activities as he joined and eventually became President of the SAIT Built Racing club, where he oversaw the club’s growth. However, his most accomplished contribution came through his involvement with the SAIT Students’ Association (Saitsa) . Hunter wanted to serve his community as a whole and decided to run for directorship on the board before he realized he could do more. He successfully ran to be the full-time VP External before going on to participate in a comprehensive governance overhaul and eventually winning the presidency.
As Saitsa president, he consistently explored ways to improve the student experience through services, communications and community – hosting Bingo nights online, creating the Asterisk* podcast, and running two Get Out the Vote! Campaigns.
Hunter says his proudest achievement as president was the advocacy Saitsa did for AB 2030, a strategic plan for the Ministry of Advanced Education. The 10-year strategic plan laid out a vision of where the Government of Alberta wants post-secondary to be by 2030. Hunter and Saitsa’s input was integral in advocating for their fellow students at SAIT and across the province.
“Saitsa’s work was instrumental in making sure that the system went a certain way and that certain aspects were in that strategic plan,” he says. “And it wasn’t just me! It was all the students of Alberta and Saitsa as a whole.”
For his outstanding and steadfast dedication to his fellow students, Hunter was awarded SAIT’s 2022 President’s Medal, a symbol of his personal growth and the value of community involvement.
“This medal is a symbol of how far I’ve come and what I’ve become,” he reflects. “I came to SAIT as a scared and broken young man, and I'm leaving here a confident, capable, and very different individual. It's been quite a journey, and these last two years weren't the easiest, but they were certainly where I experienced the most growth. It just feels humbling to be recognized this way.”