York master of environmental studies student Sean Stewart became the first recipient of the inaugural MES-York Planning Alumni Committee (MYPAC) prize last Wednesday at the seventh annual MYPAC Planning Alumni Social at the Royal Conservatory’s TELUS Centre in Toronto.
Worth $500, the MYPAC prize is intended to help support the final phase of an MES student’s degree in planning. Candidates were evaluated on the extent of their service and commitment to the York planning community, along with academic performance, career objectives and personal references factoring into the award decision.
Right: From left, MYPAC chair Caroline McKee, MYPAC award recipient Sean Stewart and FES Dean Barbara Rahder
Set to graduate with an MES degree this October, Stewart plans to use the prize money to help fund his research into Aboriginal planning in British Columbia this summer. After that he is likely to return to Ontario, where he is the York student representative for the Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI), the planning certification body for the province. He is also an active member within the Canadian Association of Planning Students. For Stewart, involvement in these organizations strengthens his future as a planner. “I gain so much from being around people who are as passionate about planning as I am.”
Left: MES alumni Peter Kellner and Sandy Tieman catch up with one another (front left), while MES student Jose Yow checks in with Professor Liette Gilbert (front right)
Stewart attributes his sustained passion during his studies to the flexible structure of York’s MES program. He said he also appreciates the considerable size of the Faculty. “With such a large [number of] faculty in Environmental Studies at York [compared with other planning programs], you’ll definitely find professors to support your interests…. Being able to pursue your own specific interests is really what allows students to excel in their research and studies.”
Right: The 2011 MYPAC team, hosts of the successful alumni social held at the Royal Conservatory
In addition to the inauguration of the MYPAC prize, Barbara Rahder, dean of York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, announced the upcoming internship program for bachelor of environmental sudies students slated to launch at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year. This initiative, made possible through York’s Academic Innovation Fund (see YFile, April 5), will provide alumni with another opportunity to keep in contact with the Faculty and will help prepare undergraduate students for their lives after graduation. An alumni mentorship program already exists for graduate students.
While the event had a strong York alumni turnout, the night also proved to catch the radar of the Canadian Association of Planning Students. Brad Bradford, CAPS president, and Kathryn Randle, CAPS Board of Directors member, were keen to attend the event with colleagues from OPPI.