Saitsa president honoured for his dedication to students
As president of SAIT's Students' Association (Saitsa), Ryan Morstad has presided over some big events on campus, including a $10 million gift from Saitsa to SAIT, but he wasn't expecting to be in charge during a global crisis that will change history – the COVID-19 pandemic.
It's been ridiculous around here as I'm sure as it has been for everyone," says Morstad. "Students have been asking tons of questions about transitioning to online learning and about paying their bills because they've lost their jobs. At a time like this, our mission at Saitsa is to advocate on behalf of students to the SAIT administration and the provincial government."
Morstad has been dedicating his efforts to his fellow students and the greater community since he arrived on campus as a business student about four years ago. It's no surprise that a seasoned leader like Morstad is the recipient of the 2020 SAIT President's Medal.
Morstad became involved in extracurricular activities as soon as he arrived on campus. Originally, his intention was to build his professional and leadership skills and he wanted to make a contribution to campus life. He ran to sit on the Saitsa Board of Directors and won. He also joined a number of committees and boards on and off campus, including the board of the Hillhurst- Sunnyside Community Association.
"It all dovetailed," says Morstad. "Six months into my position on the Saitsa board I realized 'wow, this is so valuable.' I have the power to make a difference and to improve things for students and Calgary."
Studying in SAIT's Bachelor of Business Administration program, Morstad's interest in entrepreneurship, his love of the outdoors and his commitment to campus life also dovetailed. An avid surfer, he and a partner formed a business that arranged river surfing expeditions, lessons and surf gear. He also created a popular river surf club on campus. But he's given up his involvement in the club and business because he's far too busy as Saitsa President, a full time job. In fact he’s the first Saitsa President in 20 years to be elected to a second, one-year term.
On receiving the SAIT President’s Medal, Morstad says it’s a bit overwhelming. “It just means so much to me. I've put in so much effort for SAIT and the community and to see it being a recognized in a formal way, it's just amazing.”
Morstad says he will continue to deal with the COVID-19 disruption by working to improve Saitsa's services online. Eventually he hopes to apply his SAIT education in the financial services sector.