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Each school year, a new crop of students eager to break into the ever-competitive world of broadcast sit in Richard Stroobant’s audio production class, part of SAIT’s Radio, Television and Broadcast News (RTBN) program. And each year, Stroobant, a SAIT grad and award-winning radio producer, puts their career journey into perspective by asking, ‘How bad do you want it?’
“I know what they’re going to go through, and I know what the sacrifices are to make it,” says Stroobant. “It’s a way to say, “Don’t lose focus on why you are here because it’s going to get hard.”
Having taught over 1,000 students, Stroobant says he has seen many go on to achieve incredible success. And so, one evening over the Christmas break he decided it was time reach out to those former students who have worked hard to achieve their goals.
“I thought, ‘I wish there was a way I could continue to influence the students I’ve had before, to remind them of how important staying hungry is and also give them some sort of badge of honour that they have made it, they have been successful and they have earned it.’ They’ve shown how bad they want it.”
Playing off of his signature and inspirational line, Stroobant had wristbands with the words, ‘How bad do you want it?’ created and sent them along with a letter of explanation to almost 100 SAIT graduates, not knowing whether or not he’d hear back. That is until letters and social posts came pouring in. Recipients posted letters of thanks and shared selfies wearing the bracelet across social media channels, particularly on Stroobant’s Twitter account, @HowBadDoUWantIt?, which he made to continue the conversation and inspire alumni on a daily basis.
“I don’t think I realized the effect it was going to have on people,” Stroobant says. “There have been a few people who have written back very, very touching notes that have brought a few tears to my eyes. One sent a note back saying, ‘You don’t know how much this means to me. You have no idea of how much I needed this right now.’ I just went, ‘Wow.’
One of those recipients, Cathy McDonald says she clearly remembers the speech from her first day of classes at SAIT.
“I was freshly 18 years old and I was super eager, but I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into,” she says. “It is something that resonated at school when we had a tight deadline. And I kept it close to my heart when I was working morning or split shifts or covering difficult stories or even when I was completing my communications degree.”
Stroobant says he is grateful to have played a small part in the success and development of each of his students and the initiative was just something he felt was important to do.
“Something inside me was telling me to do this and so I decided I am just going to do it. I’m not going to ask anyone’s permission, this just feels right, right now. That’s exactly what happened.”
Written and photographed by Ashley Naud