MES alumni meet and mentor the next generation

Graduate students in environmental studies had a chance to hear how alumni have turned their master’s degrees into careers, at the annual Anita McBride Mentoring Luncheon.

The York Alumni Office and the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) teamed up to bring MES graduates from around the Greater Toronto Area – and even from as far away as Ottawa – to speak on a panel and meet first-year graduate students.

Panel participants John Lounds (MES ’81), Susan Tanner (LLB/MES ’76), Al Burton (LLB/MES ‘00) and Oren Tamir (BA ’99, MES ’06) spoke about the value of their education at York at the networking luncheon. The discussion, moderated by Professor Emeritus Peter Homenuck, focused on how to excel in the MES program and which skills translate best in the working world.

  Above: From left, Oren Tamir, Anita McBride, Al Burton, Susan Tanner, Peter
Homenuck and John Lounds

Lounds, president and chief executive officer of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, said the negotiation and people skills he learned in class have served him well in his career. He said no matter which subjects students studied or jobs they took, they would always be negotiating. Tanner, executive director of the Canadian Environmental Network, agreed. As members of the environmental community, she said they “were going to be negotiating social change.”

Panellists remembered how easy it was to get caught up in the whirl of ideas and projects at school, and urged students to stay focused, hone their skills and develop networks. “Engaging in those ideas is important,” said Burton, an environmental lawyer. “But ultimately you want to get out of here.” Burton said he landed his current position because his employers were impressed by his volunteer internship at a non-governmental organization in Washington, DC.

Left: Susan Tanner talks to a student

Tamir compared York’s MES program to a big family. After a stint as a standup comedian, he graduated in 2005 and now works as a planner with the City of Toronto. When he started with the city, there were two MES graduates on his floor; now there are seven or eight, he said.

After the panel discussion, participants and students had a chance to mingle.

The event is named in honour of retired staff member Anita McBride. As Leesa Fawcett, associate dean, students, said in her introduction: “Before there was Facebook or social networking, there was Anita Louise McBride.”