NAIT community award winners, achievers and community builders - Winter 2023

Leaders, innovators, creators and more!

Near the close of each season, we share news of the winners of awards, earners of acknowledgement, and other community builders among NAIT alumni, students and staff. Please join us in congratulating them!

(Know of someone we're missing? Let us know.)

Recasting disability

The life of grad Bean Gill (Medical Radiologic Technology ’03, pictured above) changed forever during a trip to Las Vegas in 2012, when she contracted a virus that would make her a wheelchair user. In time, it would also make her an advocate for those with physical disabilities, which caught the attention of Edmonton-based producer Kaitlan Stewart (Radio and Television – TV ’13). The story of Gill and her “wheelie peeps” is now the subject of the docuseries Push, which aired on CBC and CBC gem in early 2023. (Season 2 is rumoured to be in the works.)

Lorraine Royer joins Board of Governors

Lorraine Royer, member of NAIT's board of governorsA member of NAIT’s Board of Governors as of March 29, 2023, Lorraine Royer brings a wealth of experience in stakeholder relations, government affairs, community engagement and communications, as well as Environmental, Social and Governance planning and execution.

Royer is also general manager of policy and governments for Inter Pipeline LTD (IPL), a partner of NAIT through the Plastics Research in Action initiative – a $10-million, 10-year collaboration to advance the reuse and recycling of plastic in Canada and around the world.

More QEII medal winners


A post shared by Arlo Maverick (@arlomaverick)

The list of NAIT grads who have received the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medals, given by the Alberta government, continues to grow, with the most recent recipients being members of the arts community.

Jason Carter (Graphic Communications '01) is an Indigenous artist from Little Red River Cree Nation. His paintings and carvings have been used extensively as public installations. He has also illustrated several books.

Marlon Wilson (Marketing ’02) is better known as Arlo Maverick, an Edmonton-based hip-hop artist. In addition to winning several awards for his work, he has mentored many emerging artists. Wilson is also an accomplished documentary filmmaker.

Great NAIT grads (and friends)

nait celebrates award winners 2023

In February, the polytechnic announced the NAIT Celebrates Class of ’22, a group recognized for a variety of contributions to the community. “NAIT Celebrates gives us an opportunity to celebrate grads, friends and partners, recognize their outstanding achievements, and thank them for their continued support of our proudly polytechnic approach to education," says Melanie Rogers, vice-president external relations. This year’s class includes:

Recognizing research at NAIT

researcher working in a lab at nait

Once again, NAIT has made the top 10 of 50 research colleges in Canada. Research Infosource pegged the polytechnic at No. 7 in research intensity, which it valued at just under $10 million in 2022.

Coaches of the year

Two NAIT staffers and recently minted Ooks athletics leaders were named Coaches of the Year by the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.

Alan Chow (Finance ’04) finished his second year as the polytechnic’s badminton coach. In his first, seven members of the team qualified for the nationals.

Brendan Jensen (Bachelor of Business Administration ’19, Management ’17) wrapped up his second year as coach for the women’s hockey team. Jensen was also goaltender for the men’s hockey team during the 2015-16 perfect season of 36 wins and zero losses.

Building a future workforce

In February, Construction Engineering Technology instructor Brad Mielke (class of ’97) received the Edmonton Construction Association’s Volunteer Impact Award for supporting the local industry. Mielke is an advocate for inspiring career pathways in construction among youth. “The earlier we reach the next generation, the more support we can offer to help them recognize trades and construction as viable careers,” he says. Mielke has been involved with a variety of initiatives, including ECA’s Tools for Schools program, featured in the video above.

Like kid, like chemist

jeremiak bryksa, nait grad and microplastics researcher

As a kid, Jeremiah Bryksa (Laboratory Research and Biotechnology ’12) spent hours in Edmonton’s river valley hiking, biking and canoeing. Today as a chemist on NAIT’s Clean Technologies applied research team, he still spends a lot of time in the valley, but now adds “sampling” to the list of activities, as he and a team (including students) investigate the concentration of microplastics in the North Saskatchewan River.

For his expertise and enthusiasm, Bryksa was named 2023 Science Fellow at the Telus World of Science where he will share his experience with the community. He is the first researcher from NAIT in the role.

Historic event for a historical cause

nait inaugural winter city case competition team

The JR Shaw School of Business and Case Competition Club of NAIT hosted the first-ever Winter City Case Competition in February, featuring teams from SAIT, University of Alberta, Mount Royal University, Kwantlen Polytechnic University and NAIT. The competition saw students work together to put classroom lessons and critical thinking to use in suggesting improvements for visitor experiences at Fort Edmonton Park. The NAIT team, including Missy Peters, Lauren Rutherford, Ahad Khalil, Laura Dotzler, placed third overall.

Aspirations in conservation

xavier quantz, nait conservation biology student

Xavier Quantz’s efforts and aspirations were recently recognized at the Alberta Chapter of the Wildlife Society annual conference. The first-year Conservation Biology student was awarded the Robert K. Goddard Memorial Scholarship for academic achievement and impact in the field. Independent of the accolade, Quantz will also head to NAIT’s Centre for Boreal Research in Peace River this spring to work as a forest entomologist field assistant.

President of provincial well-being

mauro chies, NAIT grad and ahs president and ceo

Mauro Chies (Medical Laboratory Technology ’88, Honorary Degree ’22) knew from a young age that he wanted to be involved in medicine. Today, he has achieved that goal and more. After years in the lab and expanding his skill set with different diagnostic disciplines and even an MBA, Chies was named interim president and CEO of Alberta Health Services in 2022. In March 2023, his appointment was made permanent.

“In combination with his extensive experience, Mauro also brings a desire to drive innovation and change,” said AHS official administrator Dr. John Cowell.

Top of the morning

As Canada’s largest non-profit professional media arts organization, the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television helps drive the development of the industry and showcases its success. That recognition includes a series of awards, one of which was granted to Global Edmonton for its morning news program. Among the anchors are Radio and Television – TV grads Erin Chalmers (’02) and Vinesh Pratap (’99).

Frighteningly successful

Kyle Edward Ball (Digital Media and IT ’14) made his first feature, Skinamarink, for $15,000. The horror film would go on to gross $1.5 million. It centres around two children who find themselves alone in a house in which all the doors and windows have disappeared. The setting is, in fact, Ball’s childhood home, located in Edmonton.

Ooks year in review

nait ooks women's hockey player takes the puck up the boards

“You can just feel the energy back on campus,” says Jordan Richey, Ooks athletics administrator. For him, that was the real win of the 2022-23 season, which saw NAIT student athletes return to full Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference competition following pandemic postponements. Richey was pleased to see medals in badminton, curling, soccer and hockey this year, but notes that growing support for NAIT athletics overall has him excited for the future. “We're providing all the opportunities for student athletes. So now it's just [a matter of] maximizing what we can do.”

Subscribe to receive more great stories every month

Find out more news about NAIT, stories about our alumni and their impact on their communities, and useful how-to content featuring our experts.

Sign up today »