Undergraduate Program Assistant at York University’s Department of Economics
Bachelor in Environmental Studies 2015
"Find your passion and remain authentic to yourself and I promise you it will never lead you astray – it will only bring you closer to your true purpose. Don’t be afraid of taking risks and getting out of your comfort zone, it is a part of the journey, and that is how growth and success is acquired."
About Oriana Nanoa
How would you describe your years at FES, and did the program prepare you for your career? How?
My undergraduate studies at FES was truly a time of immense personal and academic growth, and an expansion of knowledge on the global environment. When I first joined the program, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I nonetheless embarked on the journey with an optimistic attitude. The energy within the FES community was warm and welcoming, making it feel like home because of the familiar faces in the close-knit faculty. It really felt like a strong, unbreakable community that embodied values such as passion and purpose that truly inspired me.
The education I received during my academic studies was far reaching and relevant, I can safely attest to the fact that FES has some of the most knowledgeable and well-rounded faculty members at York University. They helped me think critically about pressing issues affecting society and the environment through current research publications and even art mediums. The FES program prepared me for my future in that I approach my career and projects equipped with a holistic perspective and a refined world view. The interdisciplinary structure of the program was one of the highlights for me as it developed my capacity to become a multi-faceted critical thinker.
What’s your favorite/most memorable memory of your time at York University?
One of my most memorable experiences at York University was the traveling to Costa Rica for the “Sustainability and Wellbeing in Costa Rica” field experience course. I made some of the best memories and met some of the best people on the trip, with whom I still keep in touch with today. It was a remarkable experience that was well planned and organized, leading me closer to establishing core interests in my field of study.
Describe your post-graduation journey including experiences such as employment, volunteer work, community engagement projects.
My post-graduation journey has been extremely memorable and rewarding. I pursued postgraduate studies in International Development at Humber College School of Business, studying nonprofit management. It introduced me to the skills and techniques required to develop and grow global and local projects tackling environmental issues and disaster relief. As a co-op component of the program, I interned for the Canadian Organization for Tropical Education and Rainforest Conservation (COTERC) in a protected wildlife refuge in Costa Rica, where I worked on several conservation projects on the Northeast Caribbean coast. It equipped me with field work skills and urged me of the fragility of our diverse ecosystems, and the adaptability of species in the face of climate change. Working and living abroad on a research base in often challenging and unforgiving weather conditions developed my adaptability, problem-solving, and analytical skills. Additionally, I gained a wealth of knowledge on conservation biology and life in the tropics, with increased awareness of the urgency of conservation work and the sustainable use of natural resources. This opportunity altered my views on conservation and the natural environment and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made for my personal and professional development.
Subsequently upon returning home from Costa Rica, I began working with my own community as a project coordinator for a local nonprofit organization. I worked on government funded community engagement and capacity building projects for newcomers and refugees in the Rexdale and North York communities. Working professionally for about two years in the nonprofit industry with my own cultural community, the Assyrian community – an ethnic diaspora, as well as several other cultural communities – shaped me as an advocate for community-based work. The role was extremely rewarding, as I forged genuine relationships and connections with clients, watching them thrive and contribute to their own community in many ways. As a result, I discovered my natural leadership abilities.
What is your current job title, or project you are working on, and how would you describe the work you do in a typical day?
Currently, I am a full time MES student at York specializing in Urban Planning. I am also working with professor Mark Winfield as a Research Assistant and Social Media Coordinator for the Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI) at York University. Additionally, I volunteer as the Social Media Coordinator with a student-run non-for-profit organization, ACSSU of Canada (Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Student Union). We focus on empowering our youth, advocating for higher education, and bringing our community together. My typical work day includes attending classes, studying and researching, and updating the social media channels I manage. I try to balance all of my obligations and do the best that I can in delivering quality results in anything I take on.
If you could leave current students with a piece of advice, what would it be?
Find your passion and remain authentic to yourself and I promise you it will never lead you astray – it will only bring you closer to your true purpose. Don’t be afraid of taking risks and getting out of your comfort zone, it is a part of the journey, and that is how growth and success is acquired.