By Candace Parsons, 2014 Loyalist Environmental Technician graduate
I am a first generation student — the first member of my family to gain a post-secondary education. I am a proud University of Waterloo alumna with a Bachelor of Environmental Studies. But as my university career came to an end, I found myself in a predicament. I had a strong education, but no job experience or hands-on training. After applying for a few positions with no success, I took a step back and looked at my options: a full-time job outside my field of study, or a Master’s degree. Never once did I see college as an option. Then I took the time to look at what the environmental industry in Canada needed; what skills and education they were expecting. I started emailing program coordinators at different colleges, looking for a good fit with the industry I wanted to work in. My quest ultimately led me back home to Loyalist College.
I grew up in Belleville, but never took the time to truly look at what Loyalist offered. I found the Environmental Technician program, and oh boy am I glad I did. From my first inquiry all the way through convocation, Loyalist has made me feel as though I am their first priority. The Program Coordinator took the time to help customize my learning goals so I could build on my degree and make the most out of my time here. I earned College credits for my research and course work at Waterloo, allowing me to fast-track my diploma. I was even able to take courses in Chemical Engineering that provided more laboratory training. The hands-on learning in Loyalist’s amazing lab facilities was exactly what I needed to supplement my university education. The professors ensure they are teaching the latest techniques by partnering with local industry to find out the practical skills they want their future employees to possess. The professors truly want their students to succeed, ensuring they get exactly what they need out of their studies, including helping with course work, job searches and applications, on-campus volunteer opportunities and much more.
Plus, there is so much more that the College has to offer. As a student with a learning disability, I will never be able to express my gratitude to the dedicated staff in the AccessAbility Center, who worked with me one-on-one to make sure that I was getting extra testing time, alternative formatting for textbooks and any general support I needed.
During my final semester, I was the Loyalist Site Coordinator for Let’s Talk Science — a national charitable organization that works with youth in the local community to promote education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. I was overjoyed to have the opportunity to give back to the community I grew up in, in a powerful and impactful way.
All of the hard work I put in at Loyalist and the University of Waterloo has paid off. I am about to begin a job at Queen’s University. Two years ago I wasn’t certain what my future would hold, but Loyalist has given me the tools I need for a successful career. I said before that I am proud to be a University of Waterloo alumna, but as I leave Loyalist to begin my career, I can truly say that I am even more proud to be a Loyalist College grad.