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Spring 2019 valedictorians

Samantha Smith

Samantha Smith, Valedictorian
June 11, 2019

Hospitality Management, School of Hospitality and Tourism

Originally from The Bahamas, Samantha moved to Canada two years ago with a dream, and that dream propelled her to this moment.

The journey was not without challenges. Just before relocating, her husband’s job in Canada fell through. He stayed in The Bahamas with their daughter, while Samantha moved to Canada with their son. She worked part-time to help support their two households and pay her tuition. Samantha was determined to prove to her children that hard work and persistence pays off.

During her time at SAIT, Samantha remained focused and was rewarded for her hard work. She won the Calgary Hotel Association Scholarship and was chosen as the student speaker for the alumni donor reception. Adding to her list of accomplishments, Samantha was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honour Society and was named a semi-finalist for the Calgary White Hat Awards.

Today, she graduates with honours and is already applying her education — planning and executing events and accommodations as a Sales and Conference Coordinator with SAIT Residence. 

Tyson Henderson

Tyson Henderson, Valedictorian
June 12, 2019

Petroleum Engineering Technology, MacPhail School of Energy

Tyson had no aspirations of finding success at a post-secondary institution, pursing other avenues in the search for his passion instead.

Tyson was feeling unfulfilled on his path when his mother and sister, both SAIT Alumni, suggested he attend SAIT’s Open House. Taking their advice, he went on a tour with the Academic Chair, Alan Jack, of the Petroleum Engineering Technology program and his interest was piqued. Tyson immediately applied for the fall intake and was accepted.

In addition to being a devoted learner with a 4.0 GPA and a peer mentor during his time at SAIT, Tyson served as Vice President of Academics for the Student Petroleum Society. Over these two years, he has made many connections with fellow students, faculty and industry.

Tyson is now furthering his education through the University of Calgary’s Energy Engineering program. He’s excited by the prospect of building a long-term career in oil and gas, bringing value and sustainability to the future of the industry.

Biran Hanington

Biran Hanington, Valedictorian
June 12, 2019

Broadcast Systems Technology, School of Information and Communications Technologies

Before attending SAIT, Biran worked in a number of industries but felt unfulfilled and struggled to make ends meet.

He wanted a better life for his two young boys, and, after researching his post-secondary options, Biran discovered the Broadcast Systems Technology program at SAIT.

As a musician and recording engineer, the program aligned perfectly with his passions. Shortly after being accepted into the program, things at home took a turn — he separated from his children’s mother just weeks before school started. It was Biran’s children and family who motivated him to keep going.

Today, Biran is excited to see what the future brings. He recently accepted a job in his field with the Calgary Stampede.

Vanessa Morin

Vanessa Morin, Valedictorian
June 13, 2019

Bachelor of Business Administration, School of Business

Vanessa always knew she wanted to get her degree, but she believed her grades and lack of confidence stood in the way of being accepted to the Bachelor of Business Administration program. Today, she is graduating with a GPA of 3.97 from the program she never thought she’d get into.

Determination and hard work got her here. When she struggled with public speaking in her first year, she vowed to improve. She is now a sought-after speaker, welcoming the next generation of business graduates for the past three years.

Outside of the classroom, Vanessa held various roles including President of Marketing at SAIT’s club, Vice-Chair of the Academic Council Advisory Committee and a competitor of the Business Case Competition.

Vanessa credits her success to the instructors, leaders and role models who always supported and believed in her. But it is her parents, Mark and Shelley Morin, to whom she is most grateful.

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