Celebrating exceptional alumni
SAIT’s 2015 Distinguished Alumni and Outstanding Young Alumni Awards recipients possess a striking mix of ingenuity, inspiration and dedication to their chosen fields. And perhaps above all else, they exemplify a profound commitment to serving the community.
“In almost every case, our nominees demonstrated a depth of commitment to making the world a better place,” says Brian Bowman, SAIT’s Director of Alumni and Development, and a member of the Alumni Awards selection committee.
“It’s great to read about how our alumni are advancing in their careers, and applying their SAIT education in the workplace. But what really stands out,” says Bowman, “is the difference they’re making, often outside the workplace, as actively engaged community members — giving it back, and paying it forward.”
This year’s recipients include SAIT graduates who entertain us, clothe us and protect us in times of crisis.
Master of Disaster
Tom Sampson (EMTP '85) has received SAIT's 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award.
Three decades after graduating from SAIT as a paramedic, Sampson is Calgary's master of disaster.
As chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), Sampson, 57, pulls all the strings for planning, preparedness and response in the case of major emergencies. That means collaborating with heads of 29 agencies within the City of Calgary, from police to fire to waterworks to roads, as well as 19 external agencies, including ENMAX, ATCO Gas and Alberta Health Services. That's more than 100,000 people whose talents and efforts can be brought to bear in the event of a disaster.
As CEMA's acting director, Sampson played a pivotal role in Calgary's response to, and recovery from, the devastating floods of June 2013. He also managed the emergency operations centre at Slave Lake, Alberta during the wildfire of 2011 and he directed a medical team during the Pine Lake, Alberta tornado in 2000. Sampson was previously the chief of Calgary's Emergency Medical Services and deputy chief of the Calgary Fire Department.
Lights, Camera, Action
In early 2014, Watterworth, 29, and fellow SAIT graduate Scott Westby went all-in to launch their company, which produces corporate and creative video. Armed with Westby's movie screenplay, Synapse, they were the first Calgarians in 16 years to land a spot in the National Screen Institute's NSI Features First program — a development accelerator for producer-writer teams whose film holds strong commercial promise. And Watterworth, as anyone in the local reel culture can attest, is one of the strongest advocates for the creation of a strong, vibrant, self-sustaining film industry in Alberta. He is working to cultivate an environment where more homegrown Alberta names in positions like director, writer or producer, are in the industry spotlight.
Watterworth has taken a leadership role in the regional film industry over the past few years. He chairs the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers' production committee, sits on CSIF's board of directors, and has helped to launch a weekly podcast celebrating Alberta's filmmaking industry.
Dressing for Success
Sarah Erasmus (DGC '10), a recipient of SAIT's Outstanding Young Alumni Award, knew she was on to something before she strode across SAIT's graduation stage in 2010 with an order for 174 T-shirts for National Aboriginal Day festivities.
Today, the small-business owner has sold more than 60,000 items through her Yellowknife-based shop, Erasmus Apparel, creating everything from shirts to hats to company memorabilia with her crew of eight employees.
As a native female entrepreneur, Erasmus, 29, is held in high regard by her Yellowknives Dene home community of N'dilo. She's received two People's Choice Awards — in 2012 by Up Here magazine's Frozen Globe Awards, and again in 2014 from the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce — as well as an Economic Developer of the Year honour in 2013 from the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers.
Erasmus is always quick to give back. In four years, Erasmus Apparel has given more than $8,000 to KidSport, the Stanton Territorial Hospital Foundation and local athletes; and donated clothing and merchandise to a myriad of non-profit groups for fundraisers. She also personally sponsors the Student of the Year award for her hometown K'alemi Dene School.
Written by Todd Kimberley