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Rakitha Perera Wins a President’s Classified Employee of the Year Award

The Office of Information Technology’s graphic designer honored as the second-place recipient at the annual awards ceremony in June. The accolades acknowledge staff who stand out through their job performance, attitude, and positive impact on UNLV.

People  |  Jul 23, 2019  |  By Nicole Johnson
Person looking into video camera.

Rakitha Perera (Julie Acheson/UNLV OIT)

Rakitha Perera made a career out of bridging the gap between art and technology. The graphic designer followed his passion and went to work for the UNLV Office of Information Technology (OIT) -- never to look back. 

Perera, who is celebrating 13 years on campus, was recently named the second-place winner of the 2019 President’s Classified Employee of the Year. The annual awards recognize outstanding staff members who have a strong work ethic, excel on the job, and create a positive impact on the university community.

“I had a lot of emotions,” he said when asked about his reaction to winning the award. “At first, I was shocked, then excited. It’s an honor to be recognized by your peers and university leadership for the job you do every day.”

Without a doubt, Perera is one of the most talented and celebrated creatives on campus (plus his electric personality is contagious) -- ask anyone. But his journey to becoming a coveted graphic designer didn’t start in the artistic world. In fact, his path began in 2006 as a student worker in OIT for the Classroom Technology Services unit, which opened opportunities for him to pursue a career in graphic design and multimedia.

According to Perera, he transitioned into a public service intern position a few years later, supporting the communications manager and web developer with creative projects. The internship allowed him to improve his skills, impressing his coworkers and the university community. His hard work didn’t go unnoticed, eventually leading him to accept a full-time graphic design job in OIT.

It’s known that Perera’s dedication, innovation, and imagination shines in everything he produces for OIT. From snapping photographs to developing videos and implementing cutting-edge techniques, his work is never less than extraordinary. And for that, his colleagues continually praise him.

“He is the unsung hero who adds a level of beauty and professional polish to a conference presentation delivered by the vice provost of IT, a poster directing students to a new lab, or a video short for new faculty and students,” said Karen Asquith, associate director of IT strategic planning & communications. “He takes great pride in the department and the university. He also cares deeply that any communications that represent OIT be what one would expect at a Top Tier university.”

As UNLV and the department expands, so does Perera’s responsibilities. The job provides fresh challenges and growth opportunities, which he embraces. An example includes filming Dr. Diane Chase, the executive vice president and provost, for a video message that was played at the OIT 20th anniversary celebration. It’s instances like this that highlight his collaborative and adaptive nature with university partners.

“There is simply the consistent creation of amazing work and a customer-centric approach that makes him a dream collaborator. No project is too small for Rakitha to submit his best work,” said Dr. Joe Horne, associate director of instructional technology services. “When you work with him, you too are inspired to create your own best work. He is a superstar, and I cannot properly convey how fortunate UNLV is to have him here.” 

When he’s not behind his computer or camera, he’s working on his bachelor’s degree in graphic design from UNLV and teaching classes for the university’s Continuing Education, a unit of the Division of Educational Outreach. He’s also a mentor to future creatives and professionals. 

“Rakitha possesses the ability to be both calming yet enthusiastic about any situation, an ability that few hold,” Julie Acheson, an OIT public service intern, commented. “This is a quality I hope to develop as I continue to work beside him, along with gaining even half of the knowledge that he has about all of the latest technology and applications that keep our unit running smoothly and future-facing.”

In a department filled with exceptional talent, Perera stands out. He brings a collaborative and artistic view to all of his projects, and with his positive attitude and service-oriented demeanor, strengthens the entire OIT team. 

“I enjoy working with people,” Perera mentioned. “Getting to work in an environment with enthusiastic folks while being creatively challenged has been great. I am fortunate to have the opportunity and support to explore my passion, and I look forward to my future within OIT.”

Perera, who is also a two-time winner of OIT’s Innovation Award, was recognized with his fellow 2019 President’s Classified Employee of the Year award winners during a staff recognition luncheon on June 17.