Amidst the awkward envelope flub that somewhat dampened a victorious moment for the team behind Moonlight at the Academy Awards last night, it was nonetheless a big night for Best Supporting Actor winner Mahershala Ali, the only member of the cast to take home an Oscar. The East Bay Native thanked his teachers and professors from the stage, and one of those teachers, St. Mary's College theater program director Rebecca Engle, remembers Ali well, as she tells NBC Bay Area. "I'm thrilled, I'm moved, I'm proud," she says.

Born in Oakland and raised in Hayward, Ali was asked to take part in a panel discussion of students from challenging backgrounds, and Engle says that his words stuck with her. "My memory of him is still really powerful from the things that he said," Engle tells NBC Bay Area. "It was clear that he is an old soul. He was wise, direct and honest about the things he said."

Ali was at St. Mary's on a basketball scholarship and had not done any theater, but that day led to Engle inviting him to take a small part in a show that "required somebody with a lot of physicality, a lot of poise," Engle further tells ABC 7. He later would perform in his first all-black production during his senior year, and after graduating in 1996 he went on to study acting at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.

Ali's first major screen role was in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and many may recognize him for his roles as Boggs in the Hunger Games franchise, and as Remy Danton on House of Cards. He also had a featured role in Hidden Figures which was also up for Best Picture and several other awards last night.

According to the Huffington Post, last night's win made Ali the first Muslim actor to take home an acting Oscar.

Engle tells NBC Bay Area she believes Ali wants to return to St. Mary's to do a screening of Moonlight, and she hopes that happens.

Meanwhile, though, he is also busy with a brand new baby daughter who was born on February 22.