10 years of Outstanding Young Alumni
SAIT alumna Smita Acharrya was the first recipient of SAIT's Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 2009.
A decade has passed since Smita Acharrya (CTSR '00) received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, but she still remembers the surprise and pride that came with the recognition.
"Having a colleague nominate me was unexpected," Acharrya says, "but it gave me the opportunity to reflect on everyone who helped me from the time I graduated to the time I wrote my acceptance speech."
Since 2009, SAIT has recognized Outstanding Young Alumni alongside Distinguished Alumni at the annual Alumni Awards celebration. The award highlights SAIT graduates who are under 35 years old, have graduated within the last 10 years, and are proven leaders in industry and their communities.
Acharrya, an award-winning filmmaker from SAIT's Cinema, Television and Radio program — now Film and Video Production and Radio, Television and Broadcast News — was the first recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Today, she works for STORYHIVE, a TELUS Communications Inc. initiative that helps young, aspiring filmmakers get their break in Alberta and British Columbia.
Recipients of the Outstanding Young Alumni award embody a diverse cross-section of SAIT graduates — leaders, entrepreneurs, community builders, creators and innovators — that make up the SAIT community.
Albert Myles Mejia (ACST '10, BA '14) received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award last fall and is definitely a SAIT original. When he's not teaching hip hop dance to at-risk youth, or running his own clothing line, he's enhancing the lives of SAIT students as the Promotions Coordinator for the SAIT Students' Association.
"If you would have asked me ten years ago if I thought I would get an award like this, there is no way I'd have said yes, but now I see it as just the next step in my growth, it's opened a new level — the next chapter."
SAIT Alumni can be nominated for the Alumni Awards in two categories: the Distinguished Alumni Award and the Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Both awards serve to not only recognize exceptional leadership in industry, community involvement and support for SAIT, but also to illustrate the value of a SAIT education to current and future students.
"I hope students see me and think that they too can do great things," says Mejia who credits his success to the skills he learned at SAIT. "This award is the highlight of my career."
Written by Courtney Garlough