Jovanna Sauro wins SFU Personal Achievement Award

June 19, 2023

Jovanna Sauro has embarked on many journeys since starting at SFU back in 2015. Through it all, she has managed to excel with positivity and determination. Receiving the 2022 Staff Achievement Award in Personal Achievement is meaningful, as it’s a gentle nod to her continuous positive perspective on life.

As Jovanna began her role as an Executive Assistant to the Chief Information Officer in IT Services back in 2020 she was also accepted into the Master of Education (MEd), Health and Active Living (HEAL) program. In that same year, she was diagnosed with cancer. To say it was a whirlwind would be an understatement.

But Jovanna thrived, in her studies and in her professional work at the same time. Even with ongoing side effects from her medical treatments, she excelled in her studies with quiet determination and to a high standard. The MEd program was therapeutic as she loves the sense of community and engagement that came with it, and this experience inspired her to pursue the HEAL program and contribute to the healthcare and education sector in the future.

“All of my hard work academically, professionally and personally has come to fruition. This award is a reminder to truly feel proud of my accomplishments. I also hope that is an inspiration to others who have been touched by cancer. Cancer doesn’t defy me. I defy it.” says Sauro.

Although it wasn’t easy undergoing medical treatments and starting as a graduate student, looking back, she was grateful for the journey. The MEd degree program felt like part of her healing process not only as a cancer patient but as a survivor.

“Through the short time I have known Jovanna, she has become the epitome of overcoming adversity with courage, resilience and determination while starting a new job and completing a graduate degree, all while battling and beating cancer,” says Keith Fong, director, application services, IT services.

While on campus, Jovanna especially loves to walk around and enjoy the scenery of the mountains. She is also working with the SFU Canadian Cancer Society, to share her journey and help inspire others going through challenging times.

Manager of Student Central & On-Campus Recruitment, Rebecca Langmead, started graduate school together with Sauro was always impressed by her kindness, empathy and determination. “In the past two years that I have known Jovanna, I have seen her overcome immense personal struggle, all while continuing to inspire her classmates and listen to others with empathy, not judgment,” says Rebecca.

This Staff Achievement Award as recognition of her success and achievements in her career and education all while overcoming adversity, showcases her as an inspiration to other SFU community members.

Since this award, Jovanna Sauro has challenged herself yet again in a new role as the Development Coordinator in Advancement and Alumni Engagement. Her supporters are continuously amazed by her drive and are excited for what comes next on her SFU journey.