Photo: Dale Northey
Broadcaster caps success with communication degree
By Alisha Pillay
After 15 years as a successful broadcast journalist, Simi Sara will cross SFU’s convocation stage on Oct. 5 to receive a BA in communication. You may recognize her as the host of the “The Simi Sara Show” on CKNW Radio, or from her 10 years in local television co-hosting CityTV’s “Breakfast Television.”
Sara enrolled at SFU in 1989 following high school graduation. But a year-and-a-half into her studies, her mother passed away and Sara deferred her degree. When she felt ready to return to her studies, she opted to transfer to Langara College where she pursued a two-year program in journalism. And although she initially hoped for a career as a newspaper reporter, she instead scored an internship at a TV station that completely changed her career trajectory.
Despite her career success, however, Sara was determined to finish her SFU degree. So 25 years later, with the support of her family, friends and colleagues, she took advantage of SFU NOW (Nights or Weekends)—a program that accommodates mature learners who attend classes part-time at night or on weekends, or both.
Her three-year-long journey involved juggling a full-time job at CKNW Radio, studying for three courses each semester, and raising two teenagers.
“I’ve realized just how much you can cram into a day,” says Sara. “It’s been a great experience all around although I am relieved that we’re at the end now.”
Sara says she was very impressed by her professors, naming Daniel Ahadi and Terry Neiman, among others.
“They really encouraged me to use my professional experiences in my writing. I was always impressed by how inclusive all my instructors were, and their eagerness to help others learn.”
Sara is proud to be a part of the SFU community. She says, "Now that I am an official alum, it's been really interesting to talk to other people who also attended SFU and share stories of our experience. I find that it really opens up a conversation with people."
Well aware of her unconventional path to a degree, Sara has this advice for first-year students: “Stick with it. I tell this to my kids all the time. I know it seems insurmountable right now, but you don’t want to be me and have to think about coming back to school 25 years from now. This is a great moment for you to get this done. Get it under your belt. And really appreciate what you are learning. It’s going to help you build a foundation for later in life.”