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Student Spotlight: Brittney Canning Leaves Laurels Behind, Focuses on the Future

By Keith Morelli

Brittney Canning

TAMPA (August 20, 2021) -- “I did not come this far to only come this far.”

That’s Brittney Canning’s mantra and has been since she was a child. And now, as the finance major prepares to graduate in December with a 3.95 grade-point average, she is not satisfied with how far she’s come, looking rather at where she’s headed.

This summer, she found herself in Salt Lake City, as a summer analyst with Goldman Sachs for a nine-week summer program to support the Client Implementation Team within the Global Markets Operations Division.

“This was the best experience I ever had both professionally and personally. I was able to learn a myriad of professional skills, sharpen my existing one and grow significantly personally,” she said. “Having to migrate to Utah for the last three months was a challenge but was extremely rewarding.

“I woke up every day to work for a phenomenal company that truly values their employees and society,” she said. “I was able to learn from an intelligent team and see the impacts of the global market daily. Each day I went into the office I learned something new.

“Having this experience, I strive to always remember that I able to accomplish all my dreams and the only obstacle standing in my way is myself.”

She’s from Trinidad and Tobago and is the first member of her family to study in the United States.

“I believe that it was my duty to make the most of this phenomenal opportunity and it was my job to design the blueprint for a legacy of excellence for the next generation of my family,” she said. “I made it my mission to capitalize on all leadership opportunities and commit myself to scholastic excellence during my three-and-a-half years here at USF.

Her main motivator: Mom.

“My mother has been my biggest motivation to all my success,” she said, “and continues to the be the beacon that fuels my desire to reach greater heights.

 “From my initial semester,” she said, “I had a burning desire to get involved in student life as a leader.”

Afte3r her first year on campus, she became an International Student Orientation Leader, a role in she was able to positively impact the lives of more than 300 international students and their families as they transitioned into USF.

Many such students and their families searched for a safe space in their new home, and Canning was able to ensure students that there were student involvement opportunities for all.

“I connected them to different individuals across the student body,” she said, “and now, I see my very own orientation students serving in different capacities in student life based on those connections.”

Her involvement with student activities didn’t end there. She became the director of programming for Student Government, where she was called upon to execute all the programs and services offered to the student body. She learned about the importance of character, endurance and the ability to persevere in trials, she said.

“That position was one of the most challenging leadership roles I held thus far on campus as it took me out of my comfort zone and taught me what true leadership meant,” she said. “As a result of my dedication as a leader, I was named the Student Government Executive Member of the Year.”

She also served as the chief financial officer of USF Student Government, overseeing an $18 million student activity service fee, and is a member of the Global Citizen Project, the Order of the Golden Brahman and the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society.

Canning’s involvement on campus includes the Muma College of Business’s Corporate Mentor Program, which helps first-generation students acclimate to the business college and assists in ensuring success in the classroom and beyond. Her mentor, Neelam Waswani, who is the director at Citi, helped Canning prepare for the transition into corporate America. The Corporate Mentor Program pairs students with mentors from outside businesses.

“I had the opportunity to work closely with Brittney in the fall as she prepared for a Goldman Sachs interview,” wrote Haleigh Prosia, a former coordinator with the program, in a reference letter for Canning’s application for the prestigious 25 Under 25 program. “We worked on her interview answers and I remember thinking, ‘Here is a smart and steadfast young woman who presents herself with kind manners and is motivated, despite the challenges of these times, to make opportunities happen for herself through good preparation and follow through.

“They would be so lucky to have her.’”

Following her childhood mantra has gotten her this far. The path into the future is clearer than ever.

“I look forward to graduating this semester with hopes of beginning my career in the financial industry and shattering glass ceilings for Black women in corporate America,” Canning said. “I would encourage everyone to chase after their greatest dreams because never in a million years would I have thought that a little girl from the tiny island nation of Trinidad and Tobago would be in Utah working for Goldman Sachs.

“That was all manifestation and dream chasing,” she said. “Keep your head up, work hard and take charge of your future.”