Alumni

SENS alumni are ambassadors for sustainability in their communities and agents of change with strong professional skills. They are able to evaluate problems, synthesize knowledge and develop solutions to address the most challenging environmental and sustainability issues faced by society.

Our alumni are found in sectors and industries as varied as SENS itself, bridging disciplines across the natural, physical and social sciences, as well as the humanities and engineering. Here are a few profiles:

Liam Mulhall (MSEM 2013) - Business Analyst, Stantec Consulting
Liam Mulhall

Liam Mulhall had been considering returning to school for several years, but hadn’t been able to find the right program.  He knew he was seeking training that would provide greater job satisfaction; he wanted a career that was meaningful.  An avid outdoorsman, Liam also knew that he was interested in working to ensure that future generations would have the same opportunities that he had had to enjoy and appreciate the outdoors.  When he found SENS, Liam knew he had found the right fit.  “The one-year MSEM program was very appealing, as I wanted to return to the work force as soon as possible,” Liam says.  “Many comparable programs are very regionally-focused.  I found that SENS offered learning that could be applied broadly and would not limit my mobility.  I found faculty at SENS whose interests aligned directly with my own.  Plus, I liked the idea of living in the beautiful city of Saskatoon.”

Liam’s favourite moments from his time at SENS came early in his program, during the ENVS 801 field trip to the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve.  “I shared in my friend Razak’s first experience canoeing, watched huge flocks of snow geese that brought back great childhood memories, and shot pool with Joe in the Hafford Hotel until the wee hours.  I’d go back in a second!”

Today, Liam is a Business Analyst with Stantec Consulting in Winnipeg.  His main responsibility is front-end project planning, which includes financial analysis, feasibility studies, market assessments, and completing business cases.  The environmental division at Stantec is large and growing, and Liam sees a continuing role for himself in planning and strategic analysis.

Like many SENS alumni, Liam sees many opportunities for today’s SENS students.  “Your education is what you make of it.  Choose your courses wisely and consider the projects you complete.  SENS offers students a lot of academic freedom.  By engaging in projects that align with your aspirations, you can gain experience that will come in handy in the future.”  Liam also believes that the environmental management sector will continue to grow.  “Going beyond the obvious environmental benefits to society, many organizations are realizing the financial benefits of sustainable practices. Not only can they achieve cost savings, being a good environmental steward is good for a company’s reputation.”

Jean Kayira (PhD 2013) - Core Faculty, Environmental Studies, Antioch University
Jean Kayira

SENS only had ten students the year Jean Kayira started her PhD program at the school.  Even so, the hallmarks of the school were already in place:  “I was attracted to SENS because of the interdisciplinary nature of the PhD program.  My main area of expertise is environmental education, but I wanted to gain a deeper understanding on how I can work with other disciplines.  When I saw that the SENS PhD program was interdisciplinary, I thought it was a perfect fit.  I’m glad I chose SENS because not only did I experience interdisciplinarity in theories and methodological concerns, I was also exposed to a variety of unique environmental learning and research experiences.”

Jean’s PhD dissertation, “Re-Learning our Roots: Youth Participatory Research, Indigenous Knowledge, and Sustainability through Agriculture” allowed her to return to her home country of Malawi to conduct her field research. For Jean, sustainability is about interdependence, interconnectedness, and co-existence with nature. 

Her passion for environmental education has now taken Jean to New England, where she is a core faculty member in the Environmental Studies Department at Antioch University New England, in Keene, New Hampshire.  In addition to teaching environmental education courses at the graduate level, she advises students, and co-advises the Keene Community Garden Connections, a project focused on building local food capacity and security (www.antiochne.edu/cgc/). 

Not surprisingly, teaching features prominently in Jean’s most memorable moment from her time at SENS.  “When I got the teaching fellowship, I had to teach an undergraduate course on my own!  While I had co-taught another class with my supervisor before, this was different because I had to do it on my own. Needless to say I was excited and nervous at the same time. I learned a lot during that time so that when I got a second chance to teach another course, I was better prepared. The experience I gained teaching those courses reinforced my love of teaching and has been very helpful in my current position.”

Now that she is a year into her career post-SENS, Jean has this advice to pass onto current SENS students.  “Try to publish as much as you can while you’re still a student.  It becomes very hard to do so once you finish and have a full-time job.”  She adds, “When you’re at that low point and don’t feel like looking at your work (or thinking about it) anymore, hang in there! Yes, it's an uphill battle but it does come to an end.  Believe in yourself and your passion for your work.  You’ve come a long way.  You can sure do it!”

This optimism can also be found in Jean’s view of the future for those seeking careers in environment and sustainability.  “This is a growing sector, and there is more work to be done,” she says.  And Jean will be one of the teachers preparing students to do just that.

Brie Bennett (MSEM 2010) - Waste Minimization Specialist, City of Regina
Working within the Waste Diversion Services Branch, Brie develops and manages various initiatives that result in the minimization of organic waste and its diversion from the landfill. Since starting with the City in June 2013, she has also been responsible for the development and implementation of urban sustainability and backyard composting workshops and Regina's first ever Leaf & Yard Waste Depot pilot program.
Michel Lavallee (MSEM 2010) - Junior-Intermediate Wildlife/Fisheries Biologist, SHARP Environmental

At SHARP, Michel's main responsibility is to conduct pre-construction site assessments for clients in the oil and gas industry. These soil surveys guide construction practices in how much soil to salvage and stock‐pile for reclamation when the work is done. The assessments often include an overview of vegetation and wildlife present in the area and an examination of any potential impacts the development may have on local populations.

Speaking to the challenges that environmental professionals face, Michel points out that sustainability is a term that does not appear to have a clear definition or a set of standards against which a professional could determine if a particular practice is sustainable.

“Sustainability is often measured in revenue and multi-generational sustainability does not fit into a fiscal quarter. This may be the greatest challenge for us, changing the accounting system to include benefits that cannot be measured by the dollar.”

Christine Markel (MSEM 2010) - Senior Policy Analyst, Government of Saskatchewan

Now employed as a Senior Policy Analyst in the Environmental Assessment Branch at the Government of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Environment, Christine's duties are wide‐ranging. “I conduct a broad range of research and analysis, and assist in the development and implementation of policies, programs, projects and evaluations. This is a very interesting job that requires interdisciplinary knowledge and skills, which allows me to apply a lot of what I learned in SENS to my work.”

Christine thinks the future is bright for sustainability careers. "There is going to be a growing need for sustainability professionals in government, municipal planning, industry and business. The biggest challenge will be being ahead of the curve in certain sectors.

Josh Salisbury (MSEM 2012) - Legislative Assistant, Ontario Legislative Assembly

After completing his MSEM degree, Josh moved to Toronto and was soon offered a position at Queen's Park (the provincial legislature). He worked as a staffer for the provincial critic of natural resources and continues to meet with many stakeholders with interests in the environmental field. 

"I have already had to deal with many stakeholders and groups and even people," he says. "A big part of some of the policy work we did in MSEM was learning how to deal with different groups of people and addressing everyone's concerns to find the best possible solution."

Nicholas Trevisan (MSEM 2010) - Biologist, Dillion Consulting Limited

After graduating from SENS, Nicholas returned to his hometown of Toronto and began working for Dillon Consulting, which provides engineering, environmental, planning, and other technical services to clients in the private and public sectors.

Jesse Woodward (MSEM 2011) - Markets Director, East Kootenay EcoSociety

In his role as Markets Director, Jesse manages and provides leadership and guidance for the three regional farmers' markets, which were previously managed separately. 

"The markets were getting larger and more complex," he says. "By the end of the 2012 season it was evident that having a single director was the way to go, in terms of efficiency and management configuration." 

He credits the MSEM as an excellent base from which to build a meaningful career in the environmental management field -- providing applicable management skills and a deeper understanding of sustainability as a whole. 

"I've witnessed many sustainability issues at play, whether it's the development of stronger local food network systems or facilitating local farmer-to-customer interactions to strengthen local economic development and build social capital," he says. "I look forward to continuing work in the world of farmers' markets and local food security issues." 

Jania Chilima (MES 2011) - PhD student, SENS

Jania completed her MES in 2011 and started her PhD soon after. Her doctoral research explores water resources management in partnership with the community of water users of Lake Diefenbaker.

"The world of water/water resources management in Canada and Saskatchewan, in particular, is very complex," she says. "I hope [my research] will add some valuable components to the future management practices of Lake Diefenbaker and its water sources."

Chelsea Dale (MES 2012) - Contractor, DM Cultural Services, Ltd.

Chelsea Dale put her MES degree to good use before she had even officially received it -- having defended her thesis in September 2011, she entered the environmental workforce in October 2011 as a contractor for DMCS Ltd. Based on southern Vancouver Island, with clientele in BC, Alberta, and NWT, DMCS Ltd. focuses on cultural services, including traditional use studies, traditional ecological knowledge studies, treaty negotiations, and anthropological/historical research. Most of the work involves consulting with First Nations, government, and industry about natural resource development projects.

"Those of us who have chosen to study at the School of Environment and Sustainability and similar programs will have an advantage over others when it comes to securing employment in the field."

Julia Baird (PhD 2012) - Post-Doctoral Fellow, Brock University

Working at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Julia is furthering her research on social network analysis examining learning and adaptive capacities in collaborative governance efforts related to water. 

"This position has allowed me to apply my knowledge from my PhD work to new research questions and it continues to be very fulfilling and exciting work!"