Veteran and volunteer: Student pursues balance, community and appreciation work

MyintSeeking some free meals in summer 2021, Sai Myint, a food and consumer package goods marketing student and veteran of the U.S. Navy, began visiting God’s Kitchen of Michigan and came away with an enhanced desire to help out the community.

“I saw the pastor serving by himself and felt bad. I thought he could use some help,” says Sai. “Since then, I’ve been helping with setup and breakdown, serving FREE meals, and doing crowd control when I can.”

That is an understatement. Sai was named the 2022 Volunteer of the Year by the organization for logging more than 200 volunteer hours and helping to serve nearly 8,000 free meals at Kalamazoo County parks, churches and 58 West Student apartments.

The award is just one aspect of Sai’s WMU experience. His motto: “Business is as much about who you know as what you know. One must stay resilient and have the mindset to overcome adversity in the real world.”

It’s that mindset that helps Sai pursue his goals. Since coming to Western, he has worked as a pharmacy technician; completed an internship with All-Weather Seal of West Michigan managing inbound and outbound sales calls; and secured his current internship as retail management intern with CVS Health, a leading health solutions company. He also worked as a co-instructor for a first-year student course and is a member of Western’s Student Veterans of America chapter and the Food Marketing Association.

“What appeals most to me about the Food Marketing Association and the food and CPG marketing program is the networking potential for post-graduation,” says Myint, adding that Dr. Marcel Zondag, associate professor of marketing, helped him discover the major. 

Sai’s education journey began after high school when he enrolled in a Detroit-area college. Not finding the right fit, he left and joined the U.S. Navy, working in supply and procurement roles. He earned a U.S Department of Labor Certificate for completion of computer operator apprenticeship. His military decorations include the National defense Service Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Sea Service Deployment ribbon; and the Navy Good Conduct Medal.

Four years and an honorable discharge later, he was finally ready to pursue a college degree. “A return to metro-Detroit felt like a step backward for me at the time,” explains Sai, who grew up in Bloomfield Hills. Southwest Michigan was the answer. His brother, Vihtoo Myint, B.S.’18, earned a degree in engineering degree from Western and introduced Sai to Kalamazoo and the University.

“I knew I wanted to study business, and the Haworth of College of Business was the answer,” he adds.

Now approaching graduation, Sai plans a career that will have him leading a team either as a grocery manager or in the beverage industry. “I'm open to any opportunity that will give me a great work life-balance, a sense of community and appreciation for the work done,” says Sai. “This and networking opportunities. All while helping the community I live and work in too.” 

As Sai’s journey of education, work and service continues, you can follow along on LinkedIn