Academic Sustainability
Programs Office

ABOUT US:

Alumni

Engaging with students is the highlight of what we do at the Academic Sustainability Programs Office. One of the things we value most is keeping in touch with past students and following their successes after they leave McMaster. Read on to learn what our past students have been up to!

Katheleen Eva

Startup employee at Lilia 

Honours BSc. Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour 
Class of 2018

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Startup employee at Lilia


Where are you now?

Since graduating Katheleen joined Venture for Canada, and found work at a start-up downtown Toronto on their marketing team. She then transitioned into product growth, before making a difficult decision to leave and join her previous manager on her new venture, Lilia. There are two employees right now, and together they have raised almost 1 million in pre-seed funding. Their product is an at-home women’s fertility hormone test kit for women, and financing for egg freezing. They got into Y Combinator (a start-up accelerator in San Francisco companies like Air BnB and Reddit have come out of) and are moving there in January.

Any words of advice to new sustainability students?

– If you’re not already, become someone with a strong work ethic. It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are – anyone can do this, and the world will reward you for it.

– Prioritize yourself and your mental health above all else. You can’t do good for others without first taking care of yourself.
– Have respect for your unique journey. Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned, sometimes you’ll mess up or make mistakes; don’t feel ashamed. Everyone’s path will be different.
– Speaking of which…don’t be afraid of failure – it is often the catalyst of growth. So cliche, but for myself it has proven more true than anything.
– Do the hard thing – you will be better for it.
– Take risks while it’s easy to.
– Know your values, and always stand by them.
– Lastly, follow your heart. Do what you love, and surround yourself will people who lift you up and inspire and nurture your growth. Life is too short not to do this.”

How has the Sustainable Future Program or Minor in Sustainability impacted you/your career journey?

“When I was finishing university at McMaster, I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do yet. I loved neuroscience, but I wasn’t interested in research. I saw a lot of immediate problems in the world that needed solutions, fast. The Sustain 4XXX course helped me apply the problem-solving I had obtained throughout my time at university on something that made a real impact in the community. It helped me see the way my work could make a difference in the world, and that I didn’t just need to stick to what I knew. This led to my risky choice to pursue start-ups instead of research, and fertilized the skills I would need in this environment. So far, so good!” 

Yaman Al-Nachawati

Co-Founder of LinkMentalHealth and Consultant in Energy Sector

Chemical Engineering
Class of 2014

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Co-Founder of LinkMentalHealth and Consultant in Energy Sector


Where are you now?

Yaman worked for 2 years on the reactor safety side of nuclear energy, and 1 as a consultant for North America’s first pilot energy market to help renewable energy integration. After that, he co-founded a social start-up called LinkMentalHealth, which has helped thousands understand their mental health diagnosis better and connect to the right therapist no matter what they can afford. 

Any words of advice to new sustainability students?

“It is important to put in context that you are signing up to see problems, and to see those as challenges rather than be overwhelmed. You only have to tackle one challenge at a time, and trust that others are doing the same. Explore and together, we will keep making a better world.”

How has the Sustainable Future Program or Minor in Sustainability impacted you/your career journey?

“The Sustainable Future Program taught me about self-directed learning, a life-long skill I attribute to making me unafraid to tackle any challenge ahead of me. It also taught me how to combine this skill with my other bread and butter skills, and how to aim them at helping the world.” 

Elise Desjardins

Master of Public Health candidate at McMaster University

Honours Life Sciences
Class of 2016

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Master of Public Health candidate at McMaster University


Where are you now?

After two years of working for a non-profit organization to improve walking and cycling conditions in downtown Hamilton, Elise is currently a Master of Public Health student and is conducting research to understand how built environments influence bicycling behaviour in a mid-sized Canadian city.

Any words of advice to new sustainability students?

“Explore opportunities that fall outside of your discipline but that are of particular interest to you. Taking advantage of interdisciplinary learning will help you work more collaboratively and solve challenges that require different skill sets.  Get to know the Hamilton community because there is so much to discover!”

How has the Sustainable Future Program or Minor in Sustainability impacted you/your career journey?

“The Sustainable Future Program supported my development as a student leader by offering experiential learning. Compared to other courses, it was a unique opportunity to learn about broader issues from an interdisciplinary perspective. I developed valuable project management skills that I continue to use every day in my career journey.” 

Jay Krause

Honours Bachelor of Commerce
Class of 2018

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Associate, Investments and Investor Relations


Where are you now?

Jay works with a Hamilton-based real estate investment company, and has a direct impact on his city as part of a small and dynamic team taking on ambitious projects. He also work in a leadership capacity with Cycle Hamilton and Hamilton Community Land Trust, leveraging his skillset and experience to support important community initiatives.

Any words of advice to new sustainability students? How has the Sustainable Future Program or Minor in Sustainability impacted you/your career journey?

Recognizing the unique opportunity to conduct meaningful research while engaging with a new community, the most valuable takeaway is to understand the principles of engagement. Meeting people where they are, seeking to listen and understand, and providing value where you are able and invited will be a lifelong skill applicable in every role.

How has the Sustainable Future Program or Minor in Sustainability impacted you/your career journey?

“Pursuing a Minor in Sustainability allowed me to broaden the horizons of my business education, building essential skills and understanding new perspectives through stakeholder engagement and intentional impact. Each of these has allowed me to continually grow and perform in all aspects of my life, personally and professionally.”

 

Melissa Gallina

M.A.

Past Sustainability Intern,
Class of 2014

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Project Manager
Past Sustainability Intern


Melissa first got involved with the Academic Sustainability Programs Office in her undergrad when she implemented the Sustainable Printing Initiative and Written Work Submission Guidelines.

Driven with the aspiration to provide graduate students with the opportunity for sustainability-related experiential learning, Melissa continued her work with us through the development of the GUCEL Program.

Where are you now?

Melissa works at Lura Consulting in Hamilton, Ontario as a Project Manager. Since 1974, Lura Consulting has been a Canadian leader in collaborative planning – by bringing people together, getting them engaged, and having meaningful conversations that help shape plans and projects that improve our communities and environment. Prior to joining Lura, Melissa worked in academia and the non-profit sector, where she worked with local organizations to measure, manage and mitigate carbon emissions.

Any words of advice to new sustainability students?

“I encourage all students to make the most of your time at McMaster – get involved! This could mean joining a club, participating in an internship program, working on campus – anything to make connections with the community. Pursue activities that interest you and relate to your career goals. When you put yourself out there, you never know what you will learn, who you will meet, or where it will lead you!”

Janelle Trant

M.Sc.

Past Sustainability Intern,
Recent Graduate

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Past Sustainability Intern,
Recent Graduate


Janelle first left her mark at the Academic Sustainability Programs Office through her work on the McMaster Sustainable Procurement Guide. In the summer of 2013, Janelle joined us once again to take on a new project, Engage with Waste, with the goal to make McMaster’s waste reports more user-friendly and easy to interpret.

Where are you now?

“I am currently working at a small environmental consulting firm in Kitchener, AET Group Inc. So far, I have conducted environmental audits (including pesticide use and waste), helped to put together proposals and also helped coordinate a volunteer event for the office. I also just started volunteering with the Bruce Trail Conservancy and look forward to getting involved with this amazing organization!”

Any words of advice to new sustainability students?

“Getting involved is well worth it! It will give you an incredible competitive advantage, help you make connections, and also help you determine what exactly you want to do when you graduate.”

Connie Cheung

Past TA for Sustain 3S03 and GUCEL Intern,
Current Graduate Student

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Past TA for Sustain 3S03 and GUCEL Intern,
Current Graduate Student


Connie was one of the first TAs for Sustain 3S03. In the winter of 2014, she also took on an experiential learning project, Green Jobs: Bridging the Gap, to help bridge the gap between sustainability-minded students and employers within the City of Hamilton.

Where are you now?

“I will be attending Law School at Queen’s University.”

Any words of advice to new sustainability students?

“Sustainability students at McMaster are dedicated and passionate about their work. My experience as a TA and intern for the sustainability program has taught me the importance of professional networking, fostering long-term relationships within the community, and discovering projects and objectives that you are genuinely interested in. An extremely worthwhile endeavor that will lead to valuable skill development and working under talented mentors! “

Jeff Chan

B.Sc.

Past TA for Sustain 2S03 and Sustainability Intern,
Current Masters Student

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Past TA for Sustain 2S03 and Sustainability Intern,
Current Masters Student


Jeff was a highly engaged student with the Academic Sustainability Programs Office. In the short span of two years, he got involved in the Sustainability Internship Program, the GUCEL Program, and was one of the first TAs for Sustain 2S03. His projects include the Residence Green Bin Pilot Program and Engage with Waste: Employee Education and Engagement.

Where are you now?

“Come fall 2014, I will be beginning the first year of a Masters of Science in Sustainability Management at the University of Toronto. It is a part of their brand new Institute for Management & Innovation. This summer I am working as a student intern for Sustainable Hamilton, a non-profit corporation focused on inspiring Hamilton area businesses, large, medium or small, to adopt sustainability as a strategy for greater business prosperity and success; all with the vision of transforming the city of Hamilton into a global beacon of sustainability. I primarily work in project management, event planning and ensuring the successful execution of initiatives.”

Any words of advice to new sustainability students?

“Being involved with the Office of Sustainability was one of the best and most rewarding experiences at McMaster. I learned more as a student intern than in any course I took during my undergraduate degree. I absolutely loved being apart of the sustainability team, or “sustainability family” as I like to affectionately think of it. The people you work with and the support you are given on a consistent basis are great! You will definitely learn a lot of useful skills and gain knowledge that you can’t get in a simple classroom setting – it gives you a chance to get your hands dirty, the best way to learn. It really helped me find my passion and I am grateful for that. Whether it be getting involved with sustainability or not, I encourage all students to get involved in any way they can at McMaster. It’s a great learning environment!”

Tommy Lee

B.Eng.

Past Sustainability Intern,
Recent Graduate

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Past Sustainability Intern,
Recent Graduate


Tommy was the first student to work with the Academic Sustainability Programs Office, and the catalyst behind the creation of the Sustainability Internship Program. His project, Permeable Paving Study, focused on the feasibility of incorporating permeable paving in McMaster’s Lot M.

Where are you now?

“I’ve had three engineering jobs since graduation, tried my hands at programming, then geotechnical work, then went back to my Metallurgy field. Currently, I’m working as a process engineer.”

Any words of advice to new sustainability students?

“OWN YOUR PROJECT! I cannot emphasize enough on that point, which alone can be the key to a successful project. Make sure it’s a topic/question/inquiry you are passionate about OR at least passionate about learning. The sustainability internship was one of the first chances I had to take control over my education. Much like the real world, I chose what to learn, when to learn and what resources to use.”

Simon Webb

B.A.

Past GUCEL Intern,
Current Masters Student

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Past GUCEL Intern,
Current Masters Student


Simon got involved with the Academic Sustainability Programs Office hoping to apply his knowledge of labour markets to the issues of sustainable employment. To accomplish this, Simon took part in the GUCEL project Green Jobs: Bridging the Gap, and helped identify types of sustainability-related employment opportunities available to students and the types of skills required.

Where are you now?

“I’m currently on a co-op term at Environment Canada’s Economic Analysis Directorate. We look at potential environmental regulations and make projections of the future costs and benefits compared to the ‘business-as-usual’ case. Based on this, we make Regulatory Impact Analysis Statements (RIAS) which help Cabinet decide whether or not the regulation should be passed. The regulations span a wide array of environmental issues (greenhouse gas emissions, vehicle standards, production and trade of chemicals, etc.) The job requires a lot of technical understanding of both environmental issues and economic methods which is great because those are my two background areas. My role is primarily helping to construct the cost-benefit analysis spreadsheets and writing the RIAS’s.”

Any words of advice to new sustainability students?

“School can fly by pretty quick so you want to make the best use of your time. Figure out the type of thing you want to be doing after it’s over and the type of skills/expertise you’ll need by that point. How are your skills/expertise now compared to where they need to be? Pick your courses/extra-curricular activities with the goal of strengthening these areas. The GUCEL program is great both because it shows initiative and because it is flexible enough so you can make it into whatever experience you want it to be.”

Brittany Staboon

B.Sc., B.Ed.

Past Sustainability Intern,
Recent Graduate

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Past Sustainability Intern,
Recent Graduate


Brittany joined the Academic Sustainability Programs Office in 2012 when she took on an internship to preserve Ash trees that have been infested by the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).  As a result of her project, Ash Tree Preservation and Landscape Management, over 20 trees on campus have been treated for EAB! Brittany was also involved in the Climate Change Education and Community Engagement project to develop a presentation on her research for high school students.

Where are you now?

“After both graduating and completing my Sustainability Internship at McMaster, I went on to complete my Bachelor of Education at Brock University in Intermediate/Senior Education specializing in Biology and Geography (Grades 7-12). Currently, I work for the Halton Catholic District School Board as an Occasional Teacher. During this summer (July 2014), I am teaching my first entire course which is Grade 12 University Preparation Biology. As a teacher, my goal is to deliver engaging lessons and to inspire my students to love science. Not only did I learn valuable concepts and practical experience throughout my university degree and in my sustainabily internship, but I am now able to share this knowledge and experience on to the students that I teach. The capacity for the McMaster Office of Sustainability to effect change in the community is great which I have witnessed in my own life. Finally, I serve as the Volunteer and Education Coordinator for Sustainable Hamilton and formerly was the Reporting Initiative Coordnator for the education sector in which I managed accounts such as the HWDSB and Green Venture. In this new role, I assist with volunteer management and recruitment, as well as coordinating the sourcing and development of instructional content for various purposes.”

Any words of advice to new sustainability students?

“One of the most important things that I gained from my Sustainability Internship at McMaster was practical experience. In my project, I examined the effect of the Emerald Ash Borer on the McMaster campus and during the course of my research, a forest became my classroom!

In addition, it was a truly rewarding experience for the fact that a simple initiative that I was taking part in had the potential to impact the McMaster University community in a positive way, and that involved much more sustainable practices.

I would encourage any student with an interest in sustainability to bring it to life by doing an internship. I also gained many job-related skills from communication, professional collaboration, time management, research, and organizational skills which are certainly highly valued and transferable to any type of career that an intern may be interested in.

This was a very collaborative and supportive experiential learning opportunity where ideas are encouraged and explored, and where a vast network of professional and talented individuals work together to implement sustainability.”