NAIT community award winners, achievers and community builders | April – June 2024

Congrats to these leaders, innovators and creators

Near the start of each season, we share news about NAIT alumni, students and staff who’ve won awards, achieved great things, reached major milestones, or played leading roles in building their communities.

Here are the latest. Please join us in congratulating them!

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

Athletic director of the year (x2)

This spring, NAIT Athletics and Recreation director Jordan Richey (pictured above) swept the category for athletic director of the year, placing at the top of the podium for both the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference and the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association. The accolades recognize Richey’s ongoing efforts to more tightly weave Ooks athletics into the fabric of campus culture.

Why is winning no longer everything for NAIT athletics? Here's more on the department's new direction

Welcome, Rachel Smith!

photo of rachel smith, new member of the nait board of governors

Rachel Smith will begin her first term with NAIT’s Board of Governors on June 20, 2024. Smith is Air Products Canada vice-president and general manager (Canada), and leads the hydrogen and industrial gas business worldwide. Smith is passionate about fostering a sustainable, reliable, and safe economy across Canada – helping to pave the way for a cleaner energy future. “We are excited for the expertise and perspective that Rachel will bring,” says NAIT president and CEO, Laura Jo Gunter.

NAIT's board is responsible for managing the polytechnic according to its mandate. It comprises 18 members, 12 of whom are appointed by the Government of Alberta.

Marketing maven

photo of nait marketing instructor teresa sturgess

The Advertising Club of Edmonton recently honoured Teresa Sturgess (Marketing ’83) with the 2024 Fellowship Award for outstanding contributions to the industry and community.

Sturgess’s nomination featured 17 endorsements, including this from Pattison Outdoor executive Christina Melnychuk (Marketing ’08): “She has continuously aimed to change the industry for the better, and more importantly, give the students the leverage they need to thrive. I would not be in the role that I am today without her mentorship and guidance.”

Read more glowing and well-deserved praise for Teresa Sturgess

Thrills and skills

photo of student working with sheet metal at nait

NAIT students wowed crowds at the 2024 Provincial Skills Canada Competition (post-secondary level), held at the Edmonton Expo Centre this May, finishing among the top three in 13 of the 19 categories in which the polytechnic competed. What’s more, NAIT students swept sheet metal work and carpentry.

He shot, he scored – a lot!

Ron Amyotte (Respiratory Therapy ’87) was inducted into the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Hall of Fame this year for history-making performances with the Ooks men’s hockey team. As centre and later captain, Amyotte helped lead the team to two provincial championships, two national championships and one national bronze medal. Many of his records still stand: Amyotte remains the ACAC all-time leader in regular-season goals, points, and shorthanded goals. He played for the Ooks from 1984 through 1987.

Sights set on sustainability

Kelly Williams (Architectural Technology ’92), design and sustainability manager of Sterling Homes Edmonton, is the inaugural winner of the Built Green Canada Ambassador Maverick award. Williams led the effort to see Sterling certified by Built Green, an organization that helps builders achieve sustainable practices in residential construction. Between 2022 and 2023, homes built by the company were 18% more efficient than national building code.

Startup stars

photo of nait grad mikayla balfour speaking to an instructor at an event at NAIT

Each year, the YEG Startup Community Awards highlight and celebrate the successes of Edmonton business builders. The May event recognized two NAIT grads. Serial entrepreneur and philanthropist Ashif Mawji (Computer Systems Technology ’92) was named Community Champion of the Year. Nexarina snowboard clothing company founder Mikalya Balfour (Bachelor of Business Administration ’24, Marketing ’22) was recognized as Student Entrepreneur of the Year.

Did you know Mikayla Balfour started her business while at NAIT? Here’s how she did it

Excellence at Enactus


A post shared by Enactus NAIT (@en.nait)

The Enactus Canada National Exposition highlighted NAIT students and staff as high achievers in the world of social and sustainable entrepreneurship. The May event, held in Toronto, saw Enactus NAIT co-president Calyca Greenwald (Marketing ’22, Veterinary Medical Assistant ’13) earn the John Dobson Foundation Founder’s Bursary. Yonus Shaik (Bachelor of Business Administration ’24, Finance ’20) took the year’s Student Champion award. And JR Shaw School of Business faculty adviser Keven McGhan (Finance ’89) won the John Dobson Fellow of the Year Award.

Kudos from CiCan

photo of nait biomedical engineering students looking at machinery

The CiCAN (Colleges & Institutes Canada) Awards of Excellence recognize individuals and groups that make their colleges and institutes stand out. Recently, one of those groups was the NAIT staff behind Biomedical Engineering Technology, winner of the Program Excellence Award for programs that are innovative, portable, sustainable and effective. CiCan is Canada’s largest post-secondary education network, with dozens of members from coast to coast to coast.

Integral to the community

photo of nait grad and sports radio personality jason gregor

Jason Gregor (Radio and Television – Radio ’01) was recognized with an Integrity Award from the Rotary Club in May. The awards go to those who demonstrate consideration, generosity, selflessness and more. Gregor has used his platform as one of Edmonton’s most prominent sports radio hosts to raise millions of dollars for a variety of charitable causes.

Jason Gregor is also a past honorary degree recipient. Here’s why

Society of chefs

Peter Keith (Cook '12), co-founder of Meuwly's artisanal deli and food market, continues to garner accolades – the latest being induction into the Honour Society of Canada’s Culinary Federation. Keith was named Chef of the Year by the federation in 2020.

Tops in travel

In June, Edmonton Tourism’s inaugural Best Tourism Influencer award went to Linda Hoang (Radio and Television – TV '11). “Given her extensive contributions to Edmonton’s tourism industry, Linda Hoang exemplifies the essence of a leading tourism influencer,” wrote the judges. “Her blog and social media platforms brim with recommendations for dining, events and activities, reflecting her deep-rooted passion for the city.”

Second time’s a charm

photo of nait governor general award winner nathan cloutier

After returning to NAIT to pursue a new career in computers, Nathan Cloutier (Computer Engineering Technology ’24, Electrician ’18) earned the 2024 Governor General Award Collegiate Bronze medal. The honour is granted annually to the student with the highest overall average upon graduation. “I wasn't expecting any accolades,” says Cloutier. “I was trying to get as much out of the program as I could, and I guess [the award] was a side benefit.”

Four exemplary individuals

An essential part of NAIT’s annual Convocation is the granting of honorary credentials to members of the community. This year’s diverse group of exemplary individuals include:

  • Mark McNeill (Marketing '82), a corporate leader and philanthropist
  • Suzanne McAdam, a high-ranking officer and leader in military health-care training 
  • Arnold Rumbold, a philanthropist and supporter of NAIT skilled trades students
  • Jason Carter (Graphic Communications '01), a globally recognized Indigenous artist

Here’s why an artist, soldier, business leader and tradesperson earned honorary credentials

Welcome Parveshindera Sidhu!

graphic of parveshindera sidhu, member of the nait board of governors

This spring, NAIT welcomed Parveshindera Sidhu as one of the newest members of its Board of Governors. With roughly two decades of experience in residential construction and land development, Sidhu brings skills in strategic direction, project management and team leadership to the role. Currently, he serves as president of Genesis Builders Inc. and vice-president of home building for Genesis Land Development Corp.

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 »