Samantha Burns

Embrace all the opportunities

  • Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • BComm, Global Business Management & BA, International Development Studies

What made you choose the Sobey School? 

I grew up in Halifax, and absolutely love this town. While I was in elementary school, I attended Saint Mary’s “Mini University” program in the summers, because I’ve always really loved school (nerd alert)! I love being able to learn and engage with other students, and so when I outgrew “Mini University”, it only made sense to do the real thing at the place I was already familiar with. Although I knew I wanted to travel as part of my degree, I really liked the idea of doing my undergraduate in Halifax, because we really have a growing and thriving business community, and Halifax is not as cutthroat as some other cities in Canada. Studying at the Sobey School gave me a lot of the same opportunities as other competitive business schools, to do case competitions, study abroad, and more, but with that comfortable and welcoming small-town feel Halifax has. The best of both worlds!

What are the three things you accomplished before coming here that you are most proud of?  

I’ve been at Saint Mary’s for so long that I don’t really remember a life before SMU…high school is bit of a blur. Does that mean I’m getting old? 

What are the three things you accomplished here you are most proud of?

Something that was a huge part of my university experience was the society I was involved in called “Speak Up”, which has the goal of helping international students integrate into Canadian life by attending fun social events to mingle with Canadians and other international students and practice their English. I spent 3 years involved with this society, including one year serving as Co-President, which was so incredibly rewarding. The year of my presidency, our team received the “Most Improved Society of the Year” award at Charter Day, in only our third year of operations. This is without a doubt one of my proudest accomplishments at Saint Mary’s, and not only for me but for the amazing team of volunteers that brought it all together.

Another accomplishment I am very proud of is the time I heard about the Hamachi Case Competition happening through SMU, and almost on a whim decided to get a team together and compete. I got together a strong team of young women, two of whom weren’t even studying business, and one in her first year (first semester!) of studies. None of us has ever participated in a case competition before, but we put our heads together, and came up with a solution that it turns out the judges loved, and we ended up actually winning 1st place overall! I am so, so proud of all the ladies who made up my team (girl power!), and how we were able to come together with our different strengths to put together a winning idea.

Insert on Sam Burns' profileA third thing I accomplished during my time at Saint Mary’s was to embark on a journey to Uganda, all by myself, to participate in an internship with the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program. I had never been to Africa before, and so had no idea what to expect in Uganda, but was very proud of myself for taking the risk, and going out of my comfort zone. I ended up meeting some absolutely amazing people during my time in Uganda that I still keep in touch with, and I was able to impact my students (I was teaching computer literacy courses in Uganda) in a real and meaningful way. I taught several staff members at the Children’s Home I was working with how to use some computers that were donated to their centre. They had never used even a keyboard or mouse before, so I showed them the basics from scratch, and we worked all the way up to Paint, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel during my 3-month internship. All of my students were able to pass the exam I gave at the end of the term with flying colours. This internship was a great personal journey for me, and really tested my capabilities, but it was also a meaningful and powerful experience teaching others what I knew.

Who inspires you?

Someone that I had the pleasure of meeting in Uganda is actually a huge inspiration to me. His name is Robert, and he started his own orphanage in Uganda, because he saw suffering and needed to do something about it. He now maintains an orphanage and school with 50 children, and growing! His drive and determination to do good are incredibly inspiring, and he is constantly looking for ways to improve the children’s lives, from starting a chicken farm, to growing a garden so the children can enjoy fresh vegetables. He was also such a kind host when I visited, and I couldn’t say enough good about him. People who have good in their hearts, and sacrifice their personal comfort in order to help others are those that really inspire me. It takes a lot of work to do what he does, but he does it with a smile, and loves what he does, and he’s only 24 years old!

What is your big audacious dream? How do you plan to make an impact?

I’ve volunteered with ISANS (Immigration Services Association of Nova Scotia) for several years in different capacities, from helping with the Syrian Refugee newcomer project, to assisting in a literacy class to meeting one on one with immigrant families to help them integrate, and I really enjoy assisting in the settlement services side of things. I hope to work with immigrants to Canada and help them to make the best lives they can for themselves in these new and unfamiliar surroundings. I am very proud of my country and my city, and want to share the love!

In your own words, what impact has the Sobey School had on you?

When I think of the Sobey School, one word comes to mind - “opportunity”. Whatever area of business you are in, and whatever field you want to explore, the Sobey School has those opportunities to advance your studies outside of the classroom – from co-ops, to studying abroad (highly recommended!), to business trading simulations, to social entrepreneurship societies, there is really something available for every type of business student.

Tell me about one of your hobbies.

I love to cook and bake! Staying healthy and well-fed during university requires a little bit of planning ahead of time, but I really love to try out new recipes in my spare time (if I ever have any!).