Ahead of this spring’s graduation ceremonies, Ryerson is recognizing several established and recent alumni with special achievement awards.
Entrepreneur Emily Mills (Journalism ‘05), director Jeremy Podeswa (Image Arts ‘84), venture capitalist Whitney Rockley (Business ‘92) and activist Maayan Ziv (Radio and Television Arts ‘12; MA Digital Media ‘15) are this year’s recipients of Alumni Achievement Awards, which have been handed out since 1998.
The executive director of Ryerson’s DMZ startup incubator, Abdullah Snobar (Hospitality and Tourism Management ’09; MBA ’18), will also be honoured with the recently created Isadore Sharp Outstanding Recent Graduate award.
In an online announcement, Ryerson’s alumni department said these five alumni “represent a remarkable breadth and depth of accomplishment” and bring “creativity, social activism and generosity of knowledge and self to today’s challenges.”
Previous recipients include CTV personality Marci Ien (Radio and Television Arts ‘91) and singer/songwriter Margo Timmins (Social Work ‘86).
As accomplished alumni, this year’s recipients are no strangers to the spotlight.
The Ryerson community may recognize Podeswa for his work on shows like American Horror Story: Asylum and The Handmaid’s Tale. Despite winning two Genie Awards and scoring an Emmy nomination for directing episodes of Game of Thrones, he said his Alumni Achievement Award carries a lot of weight.
“I have very warm feelings about Ryerson and the time that I spent there and the community I grew up with and I am still a part of,” he said. “To be recognized by them, it’s very meaningful to me.”
Podeswa credits Ryerson and the Image Arts program with helping him find his voice and sense of self as an artist.
“I’ve always felt very proud to be a part of that generation of filmmakers that were nurtured by the institution,” he said. “It did give me a great sort of grounding in all of the fundamentals of filmmaking but it also gave me a greater understanding of like, where do I fit into the film universe.”
Recipient Maayan Ziv has also made headlines for her entrepreneurial work as the creator of AccessNow. The app-based platform takes advantage of the growing trend of crowdsourcing to map out the accessibility status of landmarks and businesses in cities across the world.
The idea for AccessNow came from Ziv’s experiences living with muscular dystrophy and her desire to create a more accessible world for herself and others. Most importantly, it became a reality here at Ryerson.
“Ryerson to me feels like home in many ways, so to get the call — it was a personal call, it wasn’t even in an email — and have the news shared with me was such a nice thing to hear,” Ziv said.
With AccessNow once being a DMZ-based startup, Ziv is looking forward to accepting her award alongside friend Abdullah Snobar.
“He’s been such a leader when it comes to fostering the culture of entrepreneurship and creating that energy at the DMZ, so it’s really awesome to see that he’s being recognized as well,” she said. “I’m amongst some really great company here.”
The Alumni Achievement Awards will be handed out May 4 during Ryerson’s Alumni Weekend and all graduates are invited to attend.