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Community-focused Syas has a passion helping people

Indiana Tech student Brennan Syas has a love for technology that is his motivation toward a life of significance and worth. And when he graduates in May 2025, his information systems degree will undoubtedly have on his way toward an outstanding career.

It is a deeper calling, however, that motivates him to help others achieve significance and worth—a calling that took hold of him, in earnest, last summer.

“The past year has been huge for me regarding stepping into my purpose. I feel as though my motivation in this world is to impact people’s lives positively through the use of technology,” the Richton Park, Illinois-native said.

Over the summer, Syas interned with the Gary Alumni Pathway to Students (GAPS), a not-for-profit organization that tasks volunteers to share their knowledge, skills, and interests to help Northwest Indiana students learn what career possibilities are available to them and what it takes to be successful. His role was to teach 3rd-, 4th- and 5th-grade students about STEM concepts and related careers.

“It was an experience I will never forget because it taught me how to make a difference for those who will come after me in the STEM field,” Syas said.

“Mr. Syas exhibited dedication and perseverance as he planned each lesson with careful consideration and immense compassion to ensure student success. His commitment and nurturing rapport with his students led to improved student scores,” said Dr. Coni Taslim, executive director of GAPS. “Brennan was an absolute asset to the GAPS STEM Academy and will be such to any organization that has the honor to have him. His future is bright, and I wish him all the best!”

Syas’ experience with GAPS also helped him keep his eye on his ultimate goal of making an impact in the community he grew up in.

“One of these days, I want to build my own recreational center right over the outdated basketball courts that I used to play on when I was a kid,” Syas said. “Until I can do that, I want to enhance those courts so they can be used now.”

Syas put together a wish list: new pavement to fill the holes, new fencing, new nets, regular maintenance and a painted mural that would bring the community together. However, he had no experience with what to do next. Fortunately, he was able to connect with Indiana Tech Academic Camp Director, Caleb Hunter, for support in moving forward.

“Caleb worked with me and gave me his advice on how to pitch my idea to the Richton Park Community Recreational Board, how to get the conversations started and how to handle things the right way when it comes to asking for funding,” Syas said.

Just before returning to Tech for the 2023-24 school year, Syas made a successful presentation to the recreation board. In December, he will learn if his project will earn funding. If so, work will begin on the courts in summer 2024.

“Working with Brennan on his proposal was a privilege—he made use of the encouragement and feedback and delivered a great pitch to his community leaders,” Hunter said. “Brennan is a servant leader with a passion for wanting to help people, especially the youth in his own community. He doesn’t just have the potential to lead the next generation, he already is putting his leadership into action. It’s a blessing to see his strengths and talents in action.”

Brennan says that his desire to give back to his community is a testament to how he was raised. He said that even though he is about to turn 21, his grandmother still asks him “Are you your brother’s keeper?”

“She says this to remind me to help those who need it and not do it half-way, but do it all the way. In this case, I have seen people in my community talk about its problems but not come up with solutions. Even though I am away at school, I am taking the initiative to speak up for those who can’t see this change becoming reality. I know that it will impact the lives of those in the next generation in a positive way. In my eyes, that’s a win in itself.”