University of Lethbridge grad Amanda Sakundiak’s (BMgt ’21) is an adventurer at heart. From her pre-university travels to Southeast Asia that inspired her path forward, to applying to the Dhillon School of Business and completing a Semester at Sea, Amanda Sakundiak could not have imagined the adventures that lay ahead, and how they would provide invaluable lessons along the way.

At the end of her grade 12 year, Amanda was not ready to pursue post-secondary education. Since she didn’t feel settled on a path forward, she decided to take a break from formal learning and spent two years working three part-time jobs and three months of travelling in Asia. That time she spent working and travelling allowed her to learn about who she was, what the world around her was about and how she fit into it.

In fall of 2016 Amanda began her university studies at the Dhillon School of Business. Choosing uLethbridge was an easy decision for Amanda as it was close enough to her home in Calgary to stay connected with family, but far enough away that she could feel independent. She chose a General Management major anticipating it would give her a broad academic background, yet provide a specific enough skills to find employment after graduation. However, she soon discovered she had a keen interest in and eventual love for marketing. It was exciting and she was good at it. “I felt the professors in the Marketing program really wanted me to succeed,” she says.

During her academic studies, Amanda received the Brawn Family Foundation Semester at Sea Scholarship and had the opportunity to spend a semester at sea. This award and opportunity was the highlight of her education at the University of Lethbridge. While spending an entire semester on a ship, she was able to visit ports in eleven countries, beginning in Hamburg, Germany with the final landing port of San, Diego, California. The non-traditional classroom setting was the perfect fit for Amanda who says, “the schooling and adventures I experienced were amazing.”

Semester at Sea

One of Amanda’s instructors, Dan Kazakoff had an influence early in her education path that shaped the rest of her academic career. He encouraged involvement outside of the classroom and introduced her to an additional university highlight, Integrated Management Experience (IME). IME is a program that combines academics with a community assignment where students solve real business problems for a real non-profit in the community. Dan expressed an enthusiasm for IME which was contagious and it motivated her to apply for the program. Building a cohort within that program provided appreciated connections.

Although Amanda’s first few years were focused on doing well in her classes, she came to realize some valuable lessons: there is never one way to complete a task, there is no ‘right’ way, and each individual can create their own path. Taking five years to complete a ‘typical’ four year program taught her that life is not lived in a straight line. “I also discovered that opportunities and connections with other students were readily available,” Amanda says, “and that actually getting involved in organizations and clubs was a game changer.”

As Amanda receives her Bachelor of Management degree she is proud of her accomplishment and sees this as a stepping stone, having learned important lessons through all of her experiences. She admits it was not always easy. “There were times of tears and stress,” she says, “but the lessons I learned in perseverance were instrumental.”

Amanda is already employed at what she considers her dream job. She accepted a position in Kelowna with the Mission Hill Family Estate, MAG Wine Career Development program. Another adventure is unfolding as she takes this opportunity to begin her career. Because of her former travel experience she has aspirations to eventually live and work abroad.

Amanda’s educational journey is inspiring. When asked what advice she may have to students just starting their educational journey she says, “put time and effort into all of your classes, but also just enjoy your time at university because it flies by”. She highly recommends that students take advantage of the many opportunities available to them, including joining clubs and organizations. “[These opportunities] helps make connections with other students and peers and builds friendships that become your support network.  That support network is one of the vital components to your success as a student.”

The Dhillon School of Business at the University of Lethbridge is known for its immersive experiential learning opportunities, connecting learners with industry, its supportive, personalized approach and for exposing students to emerging technology. Study options available in both Lethbridge and Calgary.