by Pam Chamberlain, submitted 2018
While he was growing up in Yorkton, SK, Joel Danyluk’s parents taught him an important lesson: when an unexpected opportunity comes knocking, don’t ignore it—explore it, and if it feels right, embrace it. That advice has served Joel well in choosing a university, pursuing his passion for hockey, and building a rewarding career.
In 2011, Joel was ready to shift his focus to his education. It was hard to leave behind his successful hockey career, though. An accomplished goalie, Joel had won a Junior A championship with the La Ronge Ice Wolves, after which he was chosen, from 1200 talented applicants, for the Community Hockey Player of the Year Award.
Just weeks away from beginning studies in Regina, Joel heard from Augustana’s Blaine Gusdal, who offered him a scholarship and a position on the Vikings. At first, Joel declined, but the prospect of playing hockey while getting a university education was attractive. “Coach Gusdal was persistent,” Joel says with a laugh. Joel and his parents made a trip to Camrose for a campus tour.
“It felt right,” Joel remembers. “I like to trust my gut.” He took the opportunity, planning to take two years in Camrose before transferring to Edmonton, but he loved Augustana so much he stayed for four.
In Joel’s first year, the Vikings went to the ACAC finals. With 2000 fans in the stands—including his professors—Joel was in net for the final game. “Usually first-year goalies don’t get to play in a game like that, but Coach Gusdal gave me a chance.” The Vikings won their first championship in 40 years.
On campus, Joel was active in the Students’ Association, Campus Recreation, and Residence Life. He earned the Community Learning Certificate, and (like 1 in 4 Augustana students), he studied abroad—in China and New York.
Through his work with the SA, Joel met a manager from Contiki Tours, which offers international adventures to travellers aged 18-35. After Joel graduated, the manager posted a job opening on Facebook. On a hunch, Joel applied. “She remembered me from Augustana,” Joel recalls, “and I got the job. Everything happens for a reason.”
Joel is now Contiki’s sales manager for the prairie provinces. He has travelled to nearly 40 countries, loving every minute of it, from exploring the high-tech hustle-and-bustle of Tokyo to the big heart of Europe. “This is my dream job,” he says.
Joel likes the independence of working from home and making his own hours while being part of a global team of 100 managers worldwide.
At Augustana, Joel developed leadership and teamwork skills that he uses every day in his job. “The Augustana difference is the small community and the opportunity to get passionately involved—whether in sports, residence life, international programs, or community service.”
And when Joel reflects on taking the opportunity to attend Augustana? “Best decision I’ve made in my life!” he says with certainty. “A hundred percent. No regrets.”