Meet Catherine. Catherine is exploring how to help a municipality make the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Her highlight during the course is being able to apply skills she has learned over the years onto a real-world. Catherine wants to work in restoration ecology or conservation in the future.
Why did you choose York University?
I chose York University because I noticed that it had programs that overlapped disciplines, which I found very attractive since I wasn’t entirely sure what career I wanted to focus on just yet. I like that I didn't necessarily have to commit to one skill with these programs. Also, it was really convenient to commute to.
What project are you focusing on during your time in the Capstone course?
The project that I am focusing on in my Capstone course is Project 115, which asks the question, “How can we help a municipality support the community move from fossil fuel property maintenance devices (lawnmowers/snow blowers etc.) to renewable energy sources?” It’s one of the partner intensive projects, so my team and I have been working closely with the Markham Environmental Advisory Committee to carry this project out.
How does your project align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals?
This project aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals by working to create sustainable communities and cities (Goal 11) and taking action to combat climate change (Goal 13). We are working on a plan to reduce the amount a city produces, as well as making this plan something that can be self-sustained on both a municipal and citizen level.
Can you tell me one highlight about your experience in the Capstone course?
Getting to use the skills I learned creatively. It feels really good to apply what you’ve learned after so many years to a real-world project and sometimes in a way you might not expect.
Can you share some skills you have acquired through the course that will help you in your career?
Writing emails. I used to get very nervous having to first write an email to someone I never met before, but now I have gotten very efficient at it and at making them both concise and professional sounding. Taking this course has also helped me work better in a team setting. I think everyone has horror stories about working in group projects. Mine had made me become accustomed to just relying on myself to get things done. Working in this team setting made me learn how to properly rely on other group members to handle tasks so I don’t get overwhelmed.
How have you integrated your knowledge from the ENVS courses into the Capstone project?
I’ve integrated my knowledge from ENVS courses in the ideas we’ve brainstormed and in the input I’ve given on certain aspects of the project. What I know has definitely helped more with researching parts.
What is the biggest takeaway from your experience?
Always remember to communicate with your group members. Don’t assume everyone will understand or interpret a task the same way as you do. It’s also good to just check in on your group members in general to see if they’re feeling alright.
What advice would you give to a student who would like to enroll in the Capstone course in the future?
Remember that your team members and the teaching team are there to support you. If you are feeling overwhelmed or are uncomfortable with any of the work you are doing, do not be afraid to talk to someone about it.
What career are you thinking about for the future?
I'm thinking of pursuing a career in either restoration ecology or conservation. I haven’t fully decided yet.