Alumni and current students from the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) master’s program came together for the 7th annual Anita McBride Mentoring Luncheon Oct 16. Four alumni shared their personal journeys through the graduate program and beyond while imparting words of advice to students currently in the program.
The event, named in honour of former director of the Faculty’s Office of Student & Academic Services, the Anita McBride Mentoring Luncheon was moderated by Ted Spence, former dean and professor emeritus. Current Dean Noël Sturgeon delivered opening remarks and spoke with pride about the Faculty’s alumni and the work they do all over the world.
From left, Carolyn Young, Adam Farr, Sara Marino, Michael Bach and Ted Spence
“The Anita McBride luncheon is a special event for FES, allowing us to hear and learn from our talented and accomplished alumni while honoring Anita herself, whose work for the Faculty and support of our students is astounding. As a new dean, I am continually impressed by the quality of our graduates as well as the passion with which FES is supported by those who worked and studied here,” said Sturgeon.
Carolyn Young, (MES ’09), the most recent grad on the panel, was first to speak and encouraged students to “build on their experience” by using their involvement in community groups or other areas outside the classroom to complete assignments in courses. Young credits getting hired after completing her MES degree to the field work she did while in the program. She currently works for Sustain Ontario, a province-wide alliance that promotes healthy food and farming.
Planner Adam Farr, (MES ’96), spoke about the diversity of the program and the benefits of being exposed to a broad range of ideas in helping to shape his research perspectives. “The idea of diversity is something that I have carried with me throughout my career,” said Farr. Prior to his current position as manager of development review in the Town of Halton Hills, Farr was the principal planner for the City of Edmonton.
He ended his discussion with employment advice to students, encouraging those having a difficult time finding job opportunities to look broadly. “The farther you travel, the broader the rage of experience you are likely to have,” said Farr. He also offered students interview tips, urging them to articulate the skills they bring to a position, noting that often people take this for granted and focus on what a potential employer can do for them. He also told students not to limit themselves when applying to jobs, “good things can happen, people fall away during the recruitment process leaving managers to dig into the depths of resumes and give people they would not have otherwise considered a chance.”
FES Dean Noël Sturgeon speaks with students and alumni after the luncheon
Director/writer for Sage Films and current PhD student in Environmental Studies Sara Marino, (MES ’98) took a unique path, simultaneously completing masters degrees in both Environmental Studies and Fine Arts. “No other Faculty but FES could accommodate what I was looking for, which was a place that would embrace seemingly disparate interests,” said Marino.
Marino was successful in combining these two disciplines in her career and is an award-winning director, writer and producer for dramatic and documentary film and television programming. Her programs have been broadcast on PBS, CBC, National Geographic, Discovery, Animal Planet, Showtime, CityTV and Rogers Television.
She spoke about the importance of the diversity of professors and the areas of research within the Faculty, explaining how these factors have helped guide her research and understand herself better. “FES nurtures and cultivates a context of learning that is as diverse in its methodology as it is in its content,” said Marino. “That context was very helpful for me in figuring out how I learn”.
Front: Dean Noël Sturgeon; from left, Adam Farr, Carolyn Young, Sara Marino, Michael Bach, Anita McBride and Ted Spence
Michael Bach, (MES ’86),spoke about his experience in the program and the importance of having to identify and articulate his research interest. “One of the things I learned while in the program and carry with me to this day, is the importance of being encouraged to root your concern, to identify and articulate it and to formulate what you are going to do about it. That is what makes this Faculty unique,” said Bach.
Bach is the executive vice-president of the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), a national advocacy organization to advance the human rights and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
Spence concluded the panel discussion and acknowledged McBride’s continued support in making the annual event possible through her financial contributions and her numerous connections with FES alumni. The informal reception that followed gave students an opportunity to engage with alumni.
By Jessica Lamoglie De Nardo, media/communications coordinator for York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies