Relaying the message

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Bryan Sherwood leads Relay for Life and works with the Student Technology Center.

The Northern Arizona University chapter of Relay for Life recently raised more than $80,000 for cancer research. Much of this success is due to the efforts of Bryan Sherwood, the organization’s executive director, who led a team of fellow students in holding this year’s all-night fundraising event held on campus April 19th. 

The event involved hundreds of students, staff, and cancer survivors. The goal of the event was to allow attendees to learn from one another while having fun and raising money towards cancer research. 

Most of the funds were raised through “relay teams” that competed to see who could raise the most money. These teams petitioned friends, family, coworkers, and peers for donations to the cause. This year, there were more than seventy participating teams, including the Northern Arizona University Office of Residence Life and the College of Education.

Sherwood says he began working with the organization before he entered high school.

“While I don’t have anyone in my family, luckily, that has been affected by cancer, I do have many family friends who have battled with cancer,” Sherwood says. “From there, I’ve just grown with it: I was on the committee through high school, and when I came to Flagstaff, I joined the planning committee." 

Sherwood explains the group enjoyed a significant turnout in attendance on campus, which helped them to shatter their planned goal of $60,000.

“We did great this year,” Sherwood says. “We raised more money than we did last year, and we had a really big showing from the students and community here at Northern Arizona University.”

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Staying connected

When not guiding the 30-student committee of Relay for Life, Sherwood works with a team that manages a 40-student office at the Student Technology Center (STC) on campus. As a computer information systems major and a full-time staff intern with the center, Sherwood says he and his team work to keep the campus connected and communicating.

“I am one of the supervisors here, and I work directly with about 40 student workers, managing them and helping them out on the phones,” Sherwood says. “I also work out in the residence halls, supporting the campus wired and wireless internet services.”

Sherwood began working with the STC his freshman year to help pay for his education, and it has benefited him in various ways - in recognition of his hard work, ITS awarded Sherwood a scholarship for the 2012-2013 academic year. As a first-generation student who is responsible for working and financing his own way through his undergraduate career, Sherwood says this scholarship was a hugely important addition to his existing financial aid and the university’s “Pledge” program.

Developing leadership

For Sherwood, the two sides of his life – volunteering with Relay for Life and working in the Student Technology Center – have helped him develop the leadership skills he says have enabled him to pursue new opportunities.

“My major here at Northern Arizona University gives me a great perspective on the business side of the IT world,” Sherwood says. “The industry needs more people who know  how to speak about technology, and how to communicate with everyday people.”

After graduation, Sherwood will remain with Northern Arizona University as part of the internship program, and expresses interest in working permanently for the university.

“One of the benefits of the program is that it has a built-in transition: you work full-time for a year after you graduate,” Sherwood says. “I really like working with technology in higher education and helping students get through their college years while having fun and learning.”