Scarlet & Brown Stories

Andy Chan '14

December 13, 2021 St. Lawrence University Season 1 Episode 7
Andy Chan '14
Scarlet & Brown Stories
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Scarlet & Brown Stories
Andy Chan '14
Dec 13, 2021 Season 1 Episode 7
St. Lawrence University

This month Andy Chan ’14 shares the impact Laurentians have had on his life, both professionally and personally, and his experience serving on the St. Lawrence University Board of Trustees as a McCurdy-Sprague trustee.

Andy Chan ’14 is a Director of Product Management at Avalara, a cloud-based software platform that provides an end-to-end suite of sales and other transactional tax compliance solutions.  Andy graduated from St. Lawrence with honors in economics, and went on to earn a master’s in analytics from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from Duke University.

Show Notes Transcript

This month Andy Chan ’14 shares the impact Laurentians have had on his life, both professionally and personally, and his experience serving on the St. Lawrence University Board of Trustees as a McCurdy-Sprague trustee.

Andy Chan ’14 is a Director of Product Management at Avalara, a cloud-based software platform that provides an end-to-end suite of sales and other transactional tax compliance solutions.  Andy graduated from St. Lawrence with honors in economics, and went on to earn a master’s in analytics from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from Duke University.

[Theme Music]

Amelia:  Hello everyone, welcome back to another episode of Scarlet & Brown Stories. This is Amelia Jantzi with my co-host, Beth Dixon.

Beth:  Hi, how are you doing Amelia?

Amelia:  I'm good. It's almost the holiday... It is the holidays now.

Beth:  It is the holidays, I am very excited.

Amelia:  You all can't see us out there, but both Beth and I are sporting some lovely seasonal red plaid today.

Beth:  Listen, we understood the assignment which was to represent the North Country and the holiday season in one package, from about seven hours apart because I'm in New York city.

Amelia:  That's true that you abandoned the North Country for that big city lifestyle.

Beth:  It's true. I did. I did. But you know something I'm not forgetting about is the fact that at the time of us recording, it hasn't happened but by the time of the podcast release, the 100th candlelight service will have already happened and I'm very excited about this.

Amelia:  If I remember correctly, Beth, candlelight was a really big part of your student experience at St. Lawrence.

Beth:  It really was. Being a member of the Laurentian singers meant that every year I got to sing as a part of candlelight for the exception of the semester, I was abroad, but then when I worked as an employee for the University on-campus, I got to be a part of the University Chorus and sing and got to be a part of the procession of singing E-Day-O, got to sing a few different kinds of songs when I was there. So I think I've performed in about eight different candlelight services in my life, but I love them very much. I hope that if you weren't able to attend in person that you were able to watch the live stream, it is such a special ceremony in tradition on-campus and I know I will be lighting my candle from home and joining in with this singing.

Amelia:  Very exciting. Well, speaking of exciting, we have a really exciting conversation coming up with Andy Chan, class of 2014.

Beth:  Andy is such a wonderful young leader in our community and I can't wait to hear all about what his history has been with St. Lawrence and what he hopes to continue to do because he is a board of trustee member as well.

Amelia:  Well, let's not waste any more time, let's jump right in. Welcome Andy.

[Music Plays]


Andy:  Thanks for having me.

Amelia:  Thank you so much for being here. Andy, we really wanted to start off partly because you're such an involved Laurentian and have been involved in so many ways since your graduation. You've been part of Laurentians in residents, I believe you were on our slew connect live program last year and you're also a trustee, and so we are curious, what other ways have you been involved and what has inspired you to be so engaged with the University?

Andy:  Yeah, absolutely. So other than what you've mentioned, oftentimes students will reach out to me, so I'd say maybe once every other week, couple times a month, give some career advice, help folks out or a little bit nervous about upcoming interviews but we all wind up where we're supposed to and they all end up doing a great job. So super happy to support wherever I can. As far as why continue to give back to the University and give back time is, there have been phenomenal people, faculty, staff that have made such a large mark on my life and I feel it's my obligation as Laurentian to make sure that the next generation of students gets the same thing.

Andy:  So Dr. Bansak and Dr. Cheezum and actually Lynn Fox played a huge role in my life in the economics department. I played in a funk band with Larry Boyette, that was a fantastic experience as well and then actually some of my fellow trustees in particular Ed Keller and Cheryl Grandfield, they were the ones who helped me land my first job and get the internship in the New York city semester. So, that's only a few names, off the top of my head but again, the power of Laurentian connections is real and so I want to be as active as I possibly can in that.

Beth:  I have the opportunity to work with the New York city semester program now and it is so amazing to see the students come and really interact with the greater Laurentian community for the first time, sometimes. Was that the first time you were connected with Laurentian? Or did you take advantage of getting involved with the alum community as a student before you went on the New York city semester?

Andy:  Yeah. So coach Bob Durocher introduced us to a lot of the alumni and soccer team is actually really neat to meet some of the guys who were on the 99 National Championship team and they were great role models for us throughout my time at St. Lawrence.

Beth:  That's fantastic. Yeah, I think that, that early exposure to learning about how connected the University is even like once you've graduated, the love and the connection that our alumni have, being exposed to that early in your St. Lawrence's career, I think, sets you up for that networking experience as you're a student and then when you're a young alumni as well.

Andy:  Absolutely.

Amelia:  Yeah. You mentioned that you're in touch with students who come to you for career advice and I'm curious, do you end up staying in touch with these students? Have you seen where they've ended up? Or seeing the fruit of that connection and that advice that you were able to give them pay off?

Andy:  Yeah, absolutely. On a side note, when I was at St. Lawrence, I was again, studied economics. I never knew technology was going to be a route for me, it's where I end up having most of my career to this point and I met a couple students who were in the computer science department who asked me, "Hey, Andy, you never learn how to code while you're in school. You're an economics major. How did you break into this field?" And I asked them the reverse question. I was like, "Wait a second. I know nothing about coding, you're ready to go in the tech field. Why aren't you going?" There are a couple folks that I've spoken to in that realm, who I keep in touch with at least monthly, quarterly, or who are doing great working at companies like eBay, Google, Apple, it's amazing where they end up and how St. Lawrence prepares you for these things.

Amelia:  Before we move on any more into our conversation, I was wondering if you could just give us a really brief recap, what the shape your life has taken since graduation to get you to where you are today?

Andy:  Sure. I always joked the most important thing that happened to me at St. Lawrence was meeting my wife. So we graduated together in 2014 and Sam has played a huge role in who I am today. Support wise, personally, as a partner in life, she's been great and it's serendipitous, I don't know what the statistic is today, but it ends up being, I think, a lot of wrench ends up getting married, so I'm in that bucket now. And so, since moving down here professionally, I've worked in a wide range of entrepreneurial software ventures. So everything from financial technology to artificial intelligence, I've gotten a couple extra degrees after St. Lawrence, I got a master's in analytics from Johns Hopkins, and I recently got my MBA from Duke and their weekend executive program and I'm also in the process of launching my own company with a classmate of mine from Duke, the name of the company is Track Record Health, and what we do is we automate compliance activities for ambulatory surgery centers.

Beth:  Oh, wow.

Andy:  So, been a very busy bee, going to school, trying to start my own company working a full-time job but again, St. Lawrence is a great place to learn how to learn and that's skill set is never going to go away.

Amelia:  For sure. What inspired you to sort of develop your own company?

Andy:  I've always been a person who honestly, doesn't like to take direction from other people. So there's this element of independence that I really like, but at the same time jokingly, right? It's also about building a team, it's grounding yourself with folks who can make up for some of the weaknesses or shortcomings you may have and so to take on a problem in the market and build an amazing team is something that's really appealing to me and that was one of the reasons I wanted to go to business school as well is to combine my background in technology with this interest that I continue to have in entrepreneurship.

Beth:  What was your, just out of curiosity, what was your internship on the New York city semester and how did that potentially impact what you wanted to do after St. Lawrence?

Andy:  So I interned with Ed Keller at Morgan Stanley in the prime brokerage division and so there, I learned a lot about the hedge fund industry but in particular, I learned a lot about alternative investments and so at the time, venture capital, private equity was starting to generate outsized returns all to the market and so people in the investment community were looking to get more exposure to that. Now, I'll be very honest, I didn't know, maybe three quarters of what was being said to me, but I was just being a sponge, right? Writing down all of the words and looking them up online when I got home and it was a really neat, fast paced environment. New York city was a great place to be in my later years at St. Lawrence.

Beth:  And did that help guide you? Did you want to go into hedge funds? I know that you're more on the tech side of things and there's plenty of opportunities in tech and hedge funds and such. Did you marry those experiences with your first job?

Andy:  I tried to get into the investment banking and hedge fund industry, first thing out of school, again, Laurentians opened a lot of doors for me but it ended up being, I just didn't have the technical chops for it, didn't have enough of a background in accounting and some of these other things but by happenstance, my senior year, I had a couple of classmates and I went to the University of Michigan to do a stock pink competition and somehow we found our way into Forbes because we had this really dramatic story of right before competition, the stock we picked, dropped something like 60 or 70% and we were scrambling on our way out to Michigan in the car, freaking out, trying to figure out what to do and we pitched it anyways and things went really well. We got media coverage around it, so my teammates, let's see it was Vasilios and Justin, it was a really funny story. I think we'll all remember.

Beth:  That must have been very exciting and a little stressful.

Andy:  Yeah and the funny thing about it was when we did that pitch right before we left, that's when Cheryl Grandfield and some of the trustees, they caught wind of it and said, "Hey, we want to listen to this pitch of yours. We want to give you some feedback." And so they saw the pitch, they thought we were great, they ended up, I think, hooking us up with a lot of our first job opportunities from that pitch and from that whole media coverage and so, it was by accident that I stumbled into technology through my interest in investing because Cheryl ultimately made the introduction to the software company I worked in.

Beth:  And what was the first software company? What was your main responsibility? Because if I remember correctly, when I met with you a few years ago down in North Carolina, I believe you then said that you helped open the door for somebody else from St. Lawrence to come work at either your first or your second job.

Andy:  Yeah. So my first job, I worked at a company called Sageworks, they were required a couple years back by Accel KKR, but they specialized in financial risk management software, so I helped them build a business valuation software tool, pretty much from scratch with another software engineer and an intern, and so it was kind of like my first year out of St. Lawrence and at the time they were hiring pretty rapid. So I hired, there's another St. Lawrence student the year behind me, who I knew pretty well was looking for a job and we got him in, interviewed well, fit right in with a crew.

Beth:  Is that something that you believe that the St. Lawrence community does really well, is interviewing and connecting people? Or do you think that, that's something that we should be working on as a community is we're good at connecting, but maybe we need to brush up on interviewing skills?

Andy:  Every student that I've interviewed and hired, actually I just recently hired another St. Lawrence student.

Amelia:  Oh, wow. [crosstalk 00:12:07]

Andy:  At Avalara, were I'm working now. Yeah. He just graduated, his name's Jeff Yaun and by the way, he came into Avalara he had nothing just like me, right. I looked at him. I was like, "You look just like me, when I knew nothing about software, how to develop, how to be a product manager, but you're really smart and you learn fast." And he came in and he's crushing it right now.

Amelia:  It's awesome.

Andy:  Yeah. So if you study hard, you get good references from the professors, that's usually how I find these top St. Lawrence students. They always come in and do really well, interview well, execute well, learn quickly, everyone I've hired, I think, is a really strong career potential.

Amelia:  Yeah. What do you think it is about the St. Lawrence experience that prepares students to go into the professional world and succeed that way?

Andy:  I think one is that eagerness to learn and willingness to try different things, that's unique to the liberal arts experience, right. When I look back my own experience, who else at a technical school, let's say, could claim they played in a funk band, studied economics and then took art classes and played [crosstalk 00:13:14].

Amelia:  Take that Clarkson.

Andy:  Yeah. Yeah, exactly. You learn to be a Jack of all trades, which is particularly in the technology industry is super valuable and not only that you learn how to develop really good relationships with people with all walks of life and different interests and in the technology sphere, you're merging these really technical software engineers, these really design centric, artistic people and then sales and marketing and trying to drive business value at the same time. It's a confluence of a lot of very, very different people and personalities.

Amelia:  Oh, sure. That's totally different languages that these people speak.

Andy:  Yeah. So they desperately need what we call product managers, right, who bridge the gap between the tech side and then the marketing sales, et cetera side, if you go on the market side and that's where the gap where I think, a lot of St. Lawrence graduates can fill really, really well, again, because of the exposure to a diversity of different topics.

Beth:  You bring up that role, that it is the liberal arts role, as I like to call them in companies, and a lot of times those are not the roles that a lot of people are aware of when you think about any given field, when you're thinking about law or tech or finance, communications and those kind of fields. Do you have suggestions of how St. Lawrence students and young alumni can learn more about those roles or find those roles when they're looking for job opportunities? Because like you said, I think they're uniquely suited for the kinds of experiences students have at St. Lawrence.

Andy:  I can't speak for the bigger companies, because I've never worked at a company more than 5,000 people. It seems like a lot of people but in the grand scheme of things, it's not that big. If you're looking for kind of a utility player, versatility role, actually there's a great website out there called Tech Crunch and they really focus on kind of the venture private equity community and what companies they're investing in and so these are high growth startups or companies that have already been funded, that are scaling really quickly, I think that's where liberal arts folks, especially St. Lawrence students thrive because even though your job title there is XYZ, you're going to be expected and have to do something that's completely unrelated to it and that's where your skill sets going to come in. So looking at job postings there, I'd say, in our product management capacity, marketing or sales capacity, if you're more technical, maybe in like a data analyst, a programming capacity is a great place to start.

Beth:  Absolutely. And I also find that anytime that people who are good at working with people, you have those client success manager kind of roles, like you want to be representative of the company that you're working for, but work with clients, maybe not in a sales capacity, those kind of roles also look really great for those liberal arts backgrounds.

Andy:  Exactly.

Amelia:  Are you good with people?

Beth:  Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Amelia:  Yeah and it's interesting talking about these themes of community in the professional sphere, but I'm sort of curious as to, you mentioned your wife, but what role has the Laurentian community played in your life on the more personal side of things?

Andy:  Some of my best friends these day are St. Lawrence grads, I think we've got all the weddings checked off at this point.

Beth:  For this year. Wait until next year.

Andy:  Well, I think, yeah. Everybody actually, like the closest friends group is now married and the kids are slowly starting to come into the picture.

Amelia:  Oh yeah.

Andy:  And so the baby showers and some of that's the next phase of this and then probably the second and third kids possibly, depending on where we choose to go and then the most exciting part starts where, you as uncle Andy and auntie Sam gets to start corrupting it. So I'm really looking forward to that telling all the embarrassing stories of the parents.

Amelia:  I'm sure they'll be thrilled.

Beth:  That is the responsibility, of course. Yes, the college friends always have to keep the parents in check. I think that's the most important thing I've learned.

Andy:  That's right.

Amelia:  Well, and I know for a lot of people and like in my own life too, the importance of community was really, really shown to have so much power over the last couple of years, as we went through the pandemic and so I'm curious as to how, if at all, did those Laurentian connections, those best friends, did they play a role in the last two years in navigating this unprecedented time?

Andy:  Absolutely. You can always rely on those folks to have a good laugh and also have a really good intellectual conversation with them when you need it, right. So I think about one of my roommates, Riley, I usually follow him up once every couple months and we always reminisce and my face hurts after we get off time or after we get off of call. He's one of the ones with a kid coming along by the way, so I'm really excited for that. I know I have another great friend, Garrett who used to be like an econ-nerd with me all the time. So we're exchanging texts all the time and we read stuff in the journal or Bloomberg or wherever, trying to make predictions about the future, most of the time we're wrong but it's fun nonetheless. you need the people that kind of keep your mind engaged and your soul and your heart happy to get through it and I think when you supplement it with family, you can get through anything.

Beth:  I love that you just said, keep your mind engaged and your soul and your heart happy because I really truly feel like that's what I think of my different friend groups, whether they were from the Laurentian singers or people from my first year program, people I was in Admissions with working in as an ambassador with, people I studied abroad in London with, they all have different ways that they engaged by mind as well as by heart and by soul. Do you feel like it was the same thing for you between soccer and slew funk and all these different things? Do your friend groups, all come from different areas of campus? Or are they traditionally like, "Oh, I'm really close with my soccer friends."

Andy:  They're from every corner of campus, every different thing. We almost got a slew funk reunion, kind of like get together, but it ended up being, people were distributed too far away from each other. So maybe one day that'll happen during reunion or something, I don't think will sound as good as we used to.

Beth: What instrument do you play or did you sing? Or...

Andy:  I played the Alto sax and I... [crosstalk 00:19:31]

Amelia:  Oh nice!

Beth:  I'm also an Alto Sax

Andy:  [crosstalk 00:19:33] Yeah and the coolest thing we actually did as a band was we opened a Grace Potter when she to campus.

Amelia:  That's so cool.

Beth:  Yeah. That was in...

Andy:  2014. She graduated with me, she got an honorary degree. Yes. Talking about another great memory, that's right when Thrift Shop by Macklemore came out...

Amelia:  Oh gosh.

Andy:  ...and there was this awesome saxophone line in that song and I remember me and my buddy, Evan were in the closet of elite head warming up, playing that and making a harmony and all of a sudden, the band members from Grace Potter slowly started trickling in, adding to it and I was like, "this is unreal, this is the coolest thing that has ever happened to me in my life."

Beth:  Oh my God.

Andy:  And at that moment, it was almost like I want to drop going to school and just tour with these guys. I remember...

Beth:  Another Laurentian connection.

Andy:  Yeah, exactly and I remember telling that to my mom the night after and she's just like, "No."

Amelia:  This is not a question?

Beth:  Absolutely not.

Andy:  No, no, she didn't say anything else, but no and then change topic.

Amelia:  That's so funny. That's an amazing memory though. That's fantastic.

Beth:  That is pretty amazing. Have you ever been able to see her perform since?

Andy:  I Haven't. I wish I was able to see her, I've heard her, I mean her performance at St. Lawrence was amazing, but to be in a crowd with thousands of other people, I'm sure is just a completely different, awesome experience.

Beth:  Always a great experience, of course. Yeah.

Amelia:  And so, now that we're talking a little bit about your student experience and you clearly or involved in so many ways as a student, what made you choose St. Lawrence in the first place?

Andy:  Great question. St. Lawrence wasn't even on the radar for me initially, so in my senior year, I got selected for an All-Star game in our high school for recruiting purposes and coach Bob was there, coach Bob Durocher and he recruited me to come to St. Lawrence and a couple weeks later, he said, "Hey, just come up campus. Let me show you a round." And coach Bob, he pretty much spent half the day with me and my mom when we visited, show me every nook and cranny of the athletic facility. He knew everyone's name on campus, was introducing them to me. It was amazing and I remember I did my overnight there, the team was great, loved the campus, loved the environment, and it was within those 12 hours that I was sold that I felt like home and I didn't want to leave after we got back in the car to go back down to Albany.

Andy:  So coach Bob is the reason I went, the reason why I continue to stay engaged and he had such a huge influence on my life. Everything from, the importance of relationship to maintaining connections and just like day to day discipline on how to become successful. I'll give you a little tidbit on him. I remember my first day practicing with the team. We used to have these little belts that you put your training, like shirts, socks, whatever, and then you'd throw it in the basket and then was a gentleman who would wash and dry everything for all the sports team and coach would always get on us and say, "When you put your stuff in the wash, don't put it in inside out." And I thought about it and I was like, "That's weird." He particularly said this after games when our nice jerseys and everything, right.

Andy:  And I thought it was odd and so one day, when I was walking by the washer and dryer, I saw that some of the other teams did that and some of the folks in there had to spend all the time to reverse all the jerseys and to reverse all the shorts. So coach never explicitly said why he did it but I know why now and it was because you were making that person's life easier. They were doing something for you, so you didn't have to do laundry, you could do a bath and study or have fun with your friends. It's a seemingly small thing at scale can take up a lot of someone's time and that's time away from their family or things they love to do. So if you can take a second out of your day to make someone's life easier, you should like a hundred percent do it. So it's little lessons like that, that coach taught me over the years, it just stuck with.

Beth:  I love that kind of thing. That's exactly the same lessons that I hear more often than not the... I was at dinner with an alumni, a few years ago and I'll never forget them saying, "I will always judge somebody by how they treat the white staff. I don't care if they're the most powerful person in the room, the most powerful person in the room. If they aren't respecting the least powerful person in the room, then that's not somebody I want to do business with." And that kind of thing is always stuck with me too.

Andy:  Yeah, I hundred percent agree and I actually often tell folks that work for me as like, "The janitor is equally as important as you."

Beth:  Absolutely.

Andy:  And so I get this funny look, and I'll be like, "Because they see everything that happens in the office."

Amelia:  Oh, for sure. Yeah, I remember when I was still working for Laurentian engagement, that was really an important thing for us to keep in mind, especially know, given how many events, particularly those big ones, like reunion and homecoming, that those campus partners are what makes reunion run.

Andy:  And especially during COVID, there are all the folks who do maintenance or support or anything, or the unsung heroes in all of this, because they put a lot of stuff on the line to make sure that we could live our lives and we can host events and we can do things so super thankful. I think everyone, when I look at, doesn't matter what your title is or how many pieces of paper you have and what your name says, your title is next to it, everyone's equally important and plays a role in everything.

Beth:  Absolutely.

Amelia:  Just that importance of human decency.

Andy:  Yeah, totally.

Amelia:  It's not a hard thing to do.

Beth:  But yet it is for are some people. Thankfully it's not hard for Andy, that's what we appreciate and one of the reasons why we're interviewing you today. So I would love to hear a little bit more about what it means to be McCurdy-Sprague trustee. This is maybe something that maybe a lot of younger alumni don't know about. So do you want to talk little bit about what that position means on the board of trustees? And tell us a little bit about the experience that you've had so far.

Andy:  Yeah, you're supposed to be the voice of the young alumni or recent grads and help steer the future of the University with that perspective in mind because I was already doing, like you had mentioned earlier, things like Laurentian's residents, I came back and I gave a Ted talk a couple years ago, so I saw as the ultimate honor to say, "This is how you can cement your legacy and give back to the University." And I've only been to two meetings so far, but it's been absolutely phenomenal. You see the other side of how the University is run and you really get to see amazingly accomplished and talented people who are graduates putting their heart and soul into to solving some of the highest and largest challenges in academia right now, everything from handling finances to the strategic role of the University.

Andy:  Also, they played a really large role in shaping how the University handled COVID and making student were safe and so as a student, you never see what happens behind the curtains but now that I see it from the other perspective, I see that we're in nothing but good hands and I'm happy to give a different perspective and contribute to that.

Amelia:  What's been one of the, you've mentioned you've only been to two meetings so far, so you're fairly new in your 10 years of the trustee, but in that short time, what has been one of the most meaningful experiences that you've had?

Andy:  That is a great question. There's a trend right now in higher Ed where the total pool of high school students that are eligible or who intend to go to college, it's shrinking.

Amelia:  Right.

Andy:  And so it's becoming increasingly competitive to attract talent to go university and I think St. Lawrence is uniquely positioned in some of its rankings, for example, to say, "Hey, this is one of the strongest alumni networks in the country." Seeing the board coalesce around strategic things, as opposed to just dealing with it like every other university would just kind of say, "We'll punt this thing down the road until it really becomes a problem." I really appreciate the foresight and thought that gets put into saying, "How do we position the University for success?" Not just this year, next year, but the next decade, two decades, like century, right?

Amelia:  Yeah.

Beth:  That's a really important aspect there. I agree with you when I was a student, I had no idea of the kind of things that the University was thinking about, not just for the current students, but for the future students and I always appreciate now that I work for the University, how much at the core of it is always the thought process of putting the student experience first and we're thankful for the work you are willing to do as representing the young alumni and the board of trustees to make those decisions and forethoughts happen.

Andy:  Thank you. Appreciate it. Again, it's been an honor, probably the most honorable thing I've been able to do on behalf of the University since I've graduated.

Amelia:  For sure. I don't know if you've got other questions of Beth, I have one more that's come to mind but...

Beth:  Well, what I was thinking is we started off that we would ask every guest this and we haven't, but I think that I'm going to ask you this, Andy.

Amelia:  This might be my same question.

Beth:  Is it? Okay. Well, we were thinking having every guest answer this but I think that you're the perfect person to answer it, which is, if you had a million dollars to invest anywhere in St. Lawrence in any capacity, what would you do with that million dollars?

Andy:  Oh boy. Maybe I should caveat this by saying I am not representing the board of trustees when I say this.

Beth:  No, no probably a good call. That's a good Caveat. This is Andy as an individual alumnus.

Andy:  I think I'd invest it in an off campus, if not full, experience or subsidy for every student in the student body because I learned a lot of great things as a student in the classroom and I also learned a lot of great things when I was at the New York city semester in the real world and I think it's super valuable for every St. Lawrence students be able to connect the two. St. Lawrence attracts students from all walks of life, their families all have different amounts of resources that can be used to invest in those types of experiences and any equity we can introduce into that process, so that experience is attainable by anyone, I think is huge.

Amelia:  For sure. That's such an important part of the St. Lawrence experience that you've touched on, the people that I've encountered, whether they studied abroad in London like Beth did, or they participated in the Adirondacks semester or the New York city semester that there's just this thirst for knowledge that's come through and to see these new ways to grow in ways that you never expected or saw coming and every time I talk to people about those experiences, it just blows my mind, the quality of experience that they have.

Beth:  I always think of college and university is almost adulting with training wheels, right?

Amelia:  New marketing slogan.

Andy:  I say the same thing to people, yeah.

Beth:  Yeah, it's, you know where your meals are coming from, you know where your roof is, you know you have a very set schedule but you have some flexibility and free time, you're still responsible for a lot of things but a lot of things were also, especially at St. Lawrence where it's a residential campus we still kind of] cater to you when you go off campus and a few of those variables change and sometimes now you're in charge of budgeting for the rest of the semester of how far am I going to be able to take this stipend every week? What is it like to try to have to walk across the city? Or try to speak a different language and connect with different people who aren't a part of my set community? You take some of those variables out and that's where the quote unquote, real adulting begins and I think that's such a valuable experience for people.

Andy:  Talk about real adulting, so there's a couple aspects of that when I went down to New York. I remember, I probably should have done more research than I did at the time, but I knew we were staying on the upper east side, which is close to a really nice part of New York. I remember driving down there being super stoked, being like, "Oh, St. Lawrence, put us in this really nice brownstone. We're going to be in this awesome community." In all that, don't get me wrong, where we stayed was great. There was a facility called the 92Y, there were people from every country in the world there. It was so cool that just sit down in the communal kitchen and meet a whole bunch of people. I've met folks from Syria, from Afghanistan, from parts of Northern Europe and Asia, you never knew who you were going to meet.

Andy:  And it was all a transient population there too, so you were constantly meeting different people but it was certainly different because it was a one gender and a whole floor, there were probably 20 or 25 of rooms. Everyone shared one shower stall. There was a communal fridge where people weren't worried about keeping it clean and stuff, so it was different, right? It wasn't Dana anymore, it wasn't the pub anymore, it was closer to real life, right. At least there's one training wheel left on the bike and then the whole budgeting part of it too, I remember, as the Sam and I had just started dating before I did this New York city semester and like any kind of relationship that early on, things can be fragile if you're not around but she would looked me dead in the eye and said, "Andy, you have to do this."

Andy:  Because it's such an amazing opportunity, you wouldn't get anywhere else. You have to go. Which is one of the reasons why I knew she was going to be the one.

Amelia:  Sounds like a keeper.

Andy:  But I budgeted a lot of stuff while I was there and one of the big things was I wanted to take Sam out on an estate when she came down to visit me and when I worked the numbers out and how expensive New York city was, I figured that I had to go to the grocery store downstairs and I could only eat lettuce and tuna fish out of the packet for a couple weeks, so I could afford a date in New York city and so that's what I did and that was a really humbling experience that prepared me to be an entrepreneur. So you learn how to live on the shoestring budgets, so you can go do something. In this case, it was trying to convince this beautiful girl that I'm the one to stay with and now I'm hanging over her head now that [crosstalk 00:33:34]

Amelia:  Your story was cute right up until then Andy.

Andy:  Yeah, that's right. Every time I tell that story, she rolls her eyes and she goes, "Oh no, not this again."

Beth:  So now she'll get to listen to it on a podcast. Isn't that nice?

Andy:  Its cemented now. It is really.

Amelia:  Oh, that's so funny.

Beth:  Next month, we'll be talking with Sam to hear her side of things.

Amelia:  Well, I think that we couldn't have ended the conversation in a more charming place. So I, unless you have any final thoughts or questions for us, Andy.

Andy:  Yeah. First foremost, thanks for putting this all together. I know this production is a really big effort but I think it's great way to show people a more personal side of the University and showcase great people have graduated from this institution. I listen to some of the other ones, people are super impressive, super, super impressive. As I'd echo throughout the rest of the podcast, if there are any perspective students, parents, current students, parents, recent alumni who want to connect with somebody, get advice, learn about new industry, just say hi and make a new friend. Find me online and I'm happy to do it.

Beth:  Great. Can people find you on LinkedIn?

Andy:  Yeah, that's actually a great way to get a hold of me. I don't use other social media much anymore. LinkedIn is like my go-to thing.

Beth:  Perfect. Interested in connecting with Andy, you could do so on LinkedIn, Andy Chan is who you're looking for. Great person, great alumni and a wonderful representation of the young alumni on the board of trustees. Andy, thank you so much for joining us today and we are so excited to see all that you accomplish in the future.

Andy:  Thanks.

Amelia:  Thank you, Andy.

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Beth:  Well, that was such a great conversation with Andy Chan. I'm so excited that we had the opportunity to chat with him a little bit. He really is so impressive. What did you think Amelia about his need and willingness to be connected to the St. Lawrence community?

Amelia:  You know, I think what really struck me was how Andy has this wonderful balance of valuing the Laurentian community on both a professional level and what it's done for him and his career and the way he gives back and works with current students and stays involved with the University, but also this deeply personal aspect as well. Obviously, he met his wife Sam at St. Lawrence and that's just a great story but also the amount of friends that clearly mean so much to both him and Sam and I think that, that really speaks to the heart of the Laurentian community that it's so much more than caring about your career or what you do with it or how you give back to the University but how it cares about who you are as a person and then supports the whole person.

Beth:  Yeah. I really think that he mitigates that how do you make the impact you want to make on the University while simultaneously understanding what the University's needs are? And he does that super well and we're so lucky to have him as a board of trustee member, a leader in our community and our students are so honestly have him as a resource. As he said, feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn and I'm sure that he would love to meet as many Laurentian that are willing to connect with him.

Amelia:  Absolutely. With that, we would love to wish every Laurentian out there, a very happy holiday season.

Beth:  Thank you so much and we will see you in 2022.

[Theme Music Plays]

Beth:  Scarlet & Brown Stories is edited and produced by Amanda Brewer, Megan Fry Dozier, Dennis Morreale, Beth Dixon and Amelia Jantzi.

Amelia:  Our music was written by Christopher Watts inspired by Eugene Wright, class of 49.

Beth:  Subscribe to Scarlet & Brown Stories on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

Amelia:  If you have a story you'd like to submit to us, you can email us at

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