Spring 2012 Student Bios
Keith Anderson comes to CityStudio from SFU. Born and raised in the Greater Vancouver area, Keith started his degree in marketing only to find himself more and more drawn to how we convey messages and the powers of persuasion. This led to his switch into Communications at SFU, where he is exploring how we can use media and other communication mediums to create public demand for more sustainable choices. He has found that some of the challenges most pressing for sustainability surround the simple act of getting people involved. Through this semester in dialogue, Keith hopes to explore these in depth and investigate real opportunities for change in this city. He is also passionate about design within the urban context; his dream is to become a city planner. He is an enthused photographer and has been inspired by city landscapes both in Canada and around the world. Ultimately, Keith hopes to leave a positive impact and has big plans and aspirations looking into the future, although he's still figuring out what those will look like.
Jaclyn Bruneau is a 3rd year Communications student at Simon Fraser University. She is passionate about supporting independent media which has been lived through her volunteerism with the Vancouver International Film Festival, TEDx Conferences, and at the SFU CJSF Radio Station. She has also volunteered on the Downtown Eastside at WISH Drop-In Centre – a safe space for female-identified sex workers. Jaclyn has spent time volunteering in Harlem and the Bronx of New York City, tutoring and mentoring inner city kids. In her spare time, Jaclyn enjoys making her own clothes, experimenting in the kitchen and healing through food. She reads anything from poetry to non-fiction and is enthusiastic about exploring alternative, holistic forms of education. Finally, Jaclyn is grateful for her opportunity to be involved with City Studio and is thrilled to see what kinds of fires will be stoked within her through her involvement with the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City Goals plan.
Born and raised in New Westminster, Taryn Cheremkora comes from a family that has lived in the city for five generations. After completing high school, she attended Emily Carr University – earning her Bachelor’s Degree in 2008, with a focus in printmaking and ceramics. While completing the program, Taryn had the opportunity to take several courses in design and cultural theory, which generated an interest in the issues of globalization and sustainability.
It was this interest that motivated her to participate in CityStudio. Through her involvement with the project, Taryn hopes to take an active role in solving problems that are being faced by all of Metro Vancouver, especially in respect to sustainable living and sustainable communities. With her fine arts background, she brings a unique disciplinary approach to these issues and would like to provide a fresh perspective on a range of diverse questions.
In her spare time, Taryn enjoys improving the artistic and cultural atmosphere of her hometown. She has been a director on the Arts Council of New Westminster board for the past 10 years and currently acts as Vice President. Outside of the arts and culture she has a great appreciation for food and thoroughly enjoys taking advantage of Vancouver’s surging culinary climate.
Scott Earle is an active Human Geography student passionate about environmental sustainability and his community. He enjoys studying the world, its people, and cultures and applying solutions to the environmental problems that are currently being encountered in our communities today. He currently works for the City of New Westminster as a Recreation Lead Attendant where he enjoys interacting with the public and understanding and responding to their wants and needs; this has led him to join Semester in Dialogue and to explore the different avenues which he can use to do so.
Scott Earle is team worker. During his time as a member of the City Studio Spring 2012 semester he has provided support and made sure that people within the team are happy, he has done this by being very flexible, diplomatic, and perceptive. A great example at prioritizing team cohesion and maintaining harmony in a team setting.
During his spare time Scott enjoys the peaceful art of sailing and outdoor activities. His artistic character is displayed in his capabilities to play various instruments including the recorder, guitar, piano, and saxophone… and let’s not forget the ukulele!
Stéphane Fontaine was born and raised in Vancouver, where he had the fortune of experiencing three different high schools. Similarly, he bounced around in his post-secondary years from UBC to Langara College, but finally decided to settle with SFU as it offered the most comprehensive program suited to his interests in human geography. Stéphane is currently working towards his geography degree with an environmental specialty and a certificate in urban studies and sustainable community development, with interests in pursuing the idea of making cities more inclusive for everyone, rather than having them dominated by specific interest groups. This may sound like he’s going to give planners a run for their money, but Stéphane is really more of a personal-development kind-of-guy, and greatly prefers evenings at home preparing food, eating, and gathering with family than to being in the urban world. He had met his wife, Dasha, in high school, but it wasn’t until New Year’s Eve in 2007, that they found their magical connection. Fast-forward 45 days later to a corny (but I’m sure very sweet) Valentine’s Day dinner post-snowshoeing, and they were engaged…sort-of…on the down-low. Together they went on a grand adventure to Western Europe, where they fell even more madly in love with each other and finally announced their engagement. In addition to the importance Stéphane places on family, he is also an avid cook, and enjoys experimenting with food.
Grace Hon is a fourth year communications student at Simon Fraser University, a future globetrotter and social change advocate. Recently she completed a four-month exchange program in Hong Kong. Although she was very devoted to her studies, she explains that her most beneficial learning experiences were outside of the classroom. Grace speaks with a sense of passion about her culture, which exemplifies her understanding for diversity and her love for her heritage. Recently catching the travel bug she hopes that her future adventures take her to Sabah in Malaysia where she can experience other thrilling adventures like skydiving, appealing ethnic dishes and connections with people.
It is no surprise that Grace naturally bonds with others in the classroom and her strive for this semester is being challenged and contributing to something that is real and inspirational. For the last few years she has devoted her time and energy to mental wellness through her volunteer ventures. While at Chimo, a crisis line, she spoke to high school students about managing the effects of stress, work and societal pressure. Currently, she is dedicated to setting a positive behavioral example while she spends time entertaining third and fourth grade students. When Grace is not helping those around her she enjoys reading Malcolm Gladwell novels, trying new restaurants and enhancing her knowledge in wines. Her favorite is Waikikamukau (pronounced: why kick a moo cow).
Nicole Jahraus grew up hiking in the great outdoors around Victoria. Today, she is a student at UBC close to finishing a degree in Global Resource Systems. Driven by a fascination with language and culture, Nicole immersed herself in traditional Sweden for nearly a year with no local knowledge and just an open mind. She came out of that experience with a sense of openness and giving that can be seen in her work and everyday demeanour. Nicole was inspired by the Scandinavian culture of sustainability and design and would like to further explore those ideas at City Studio. She also loves to cook and has already provided with the studio with a couple delicious meals. Nicole’s love of food goes beyond that, however, as she is interested in whole sustainable food systems and she avidly gardens. To make a difference in the often-meek student-food landscape, Nicole worked with Sprouts, a student volunteer-run organization at UBC that aims to connect students with local, organic, healthier, fair trade foods along with outreach and education programs. With her openness and love of food, Nicole hopes to foster a tight-nit community while meeting interesting people and naturally, she does that by hosting dinner parties.
Franco Lee is in his third year of human geography at SFU, and has been in Vancouver for 4 years since moving from Hong Kong. He transitioned from living in a 40-storey apartment building to a single-family home. Franco is amazed at the combination of urban life and natural environment offered by Vancouver. Franco is interested in urban geography, public transportation and food security, and hopes to have a future career in urban or transportation planning that brings meaningful and positive changes to the city. He believes that when it comes to sustainability, the involvement of the private sector is important in order to effectively foster behavioural change in citizens. Franco insists that green business is a good way to promote sustainability, but they need to be economically viable in the long run. In his spare time, Franco volunteers at the SFU food bank to promote food security and healthy food choice for students. He believes that a food bank is essential on campus in order for student to access free food without being hassled or judged. His other activities include walking trails, watching movies and soccer, and supporting Liverpool Football Club. Franco has always been fascinated by skyscrapers and their impact on the urban environment, both aesthetically and practically. He hopes to visit all the top 20 tallest buildings in the world and travel to all the provinces and territories in Canada someday.
Leanne Leeck grew up in Alberta but in 1993, job prospects drew her to the internationally popular resort destination of Whistler, B.C. She spent the next 7 years alternating living and working in both Whistler and Vancouver while completing a tourism program at Capilano University. It is in Whistler that she discovered a passion for the outdoors and in particular snowboarding - something that she still remains very passionate about. In 2000, she settled in Vancouver where she worked in hotel management and as a corporate event planner. It was only a matter of time until Leanne felt a pull back to academia where she decided to study environmental science and sociology at Langara College and is currently completing her degree at Simon Fraser University. In the future, Leanne's passion for environmental education has her interested in working with children - especially in efforts to re-connect them with nature in this increasingly digital age. In her spare time she enjoys playing outside, dancing, singing in the shower, and getting involved in her community. She is excited to be involved with City Studio and in particular, working with the City of Vancouver on their Greenest City 2020 Plan.
Born in Penticton and raised in Tsawwassen, Jenna McNeil moved to Vancouver to study Human Geography at UBC three years ago. She is proud to be left-handed and vegetarian!
Jenna is well-rounded in her interests and is very active on campus. She is involved in Sprouts, a student-run organization at UBC that promotes local, organic, affordable and healthy food on campus, and currently serves as a board member and workshop coordinator for Sprouts, which requires her to find facilitators and organize workshops. In addition to volunteering with Sprouts, Jenna is a university athlete and plays on the UBC women’s field hockey team, who won the CIS National Championships last year.
She became interested in sustainable urban design and local food systems after moving to Vancouver. Since relocating from Tsawwassen to Vancouver, Jenna has fallen in love with the city and the urban environment, and moving to Vancouver has enabled her to get around more easily by taking transit and biking everywhere. She is also passionate about skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, yoga, cooking, singing and making jewelry. She is excited to be participating in a Sustainable Cities Geography Field School, in Europe, this summer. Above all, Jenna loves to explore, be active and share her passions with others, and hopes to create a career which allows her to promote sustainable, healthy living.
Michael Megalli was born in Vancouver, yet spent the majority of his childhood in the small town of Comox, on Vancouver Island. After graduating high school and deciding to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies, Michael returned to the Lower Mainland to attend Simon Fraser University.
Having had the opportunity to work on several large-scale social awareness projects, both abroad (SFU’s Southeast Asia Field School) and at home (Community Outreach at BC Hydro), Michael developed an interest in the area of resource conservation. Seeing CityStudio as an opportunity to gain practical, real world experience, Michael is excited to create some lasting change in the city of Vancouver and hopes that his educational background will bring a unique outlook to the projects that unfold in the next few months.
When he has time to spare from his studies, Michael is an avid musician and composer, and enjoys sailing, hiking, paddling, and planning trips around the world.
Silvia Mora is a very driven and determined student. Prior to beginning her post secondary career at Simon Fraser University, Silvia attended Douglas Collage for two years where she worked toward an associates of science degree. Upon transfer to Simon Fraser University Silvia became a health sciences student where she is now pursuing her interest in urban development and the creation of healthy communities. Outside of school Silvia keeps herself busy and active through kickboxing, biking, and hiking. Silvia is also a dedicated volunteer having donated her time and expertise to many organizations in the past like Simon Fraser University’s student health services department. Within health services Silvia works as a peer health educator where her main task was to raise awareness about health issues on campus. Going one giant step further than helping just her local community, Silvia spent three months last year in India where she volunteered with an organization which provided income for women who had been the victim of human trafficking.
Kathleen O'Melinn is driven to make a change in our world. From an early age, she has been involved in a variety of projects, one of which she created in high school that helped raise awareness about disordered eating. To raise money for this cause, she hand-made angel pins with poems that were sold within her community. Proceeds raised were used to create a bursary to help women in need of counseling and nutritional eating advice. The project also included an outdoor program, TERRA, to help students experience experiential learning. Kathleen has also volunteered internationally, having spent time in South Bronx, New York helping in after school programs with under privileged children. Driven by her passion for making a change, Kathleen has pursued business studies at BCIT to further gain an understanding in successfully implementing projects at a larger scale. She hopes to connect with her environmental interest, this semester at CityStudio, and pair this knowledge with her business background to smoothly transition into consulting work with an environmental company specializing in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Apart from dreaming for a better world, Kathleen hopes that one day she can become a contestant on Family Feud.
Zlatina Pacheva is a fifth year Communication student at SFU. A proud Bulgarian at heart, she was born in Sofia before moving to Vancouver at the age of 2. She speaks Bulgarian fluently, which keeps her connected to her roots. An actor from a young age, her first role was as the Golden Hen in a play based on Chicken Little. She continues to act today, and starring in a Tarantino movie remains at the top of her bucket list.
Her passion for acting has translated into a love of film; Zlatina recently started a movie blog, with the goal of watching 1001 movies in one year. Her go-to movie is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, having watched it more times than she can count on two hands. A multi-talented dancer, she gave up her dreams of starring in Swan Lake to swim and play soccer competitively.
Ambitious and dedicated, Zlatina dreams of working directly with young girls on self-esteem and body image problems after finishing her degree. Joining the Undergraduate Semester in Dialogue, she brings a lot to the table, with a wealth of experience to back her up. Her reason for joining is a desire to give back to the community and to have a direct impact on the lives of others.
If Martyna Purchla was a shoe, she would be a boot. Why, you ask? Because boots are versatile footwear that can be worn almost year round. If you are hiking through the forest and need to cross a creek, boots would be perfect. If you had a dinner party that night, you could dress them up easily. Like an adaptable and fashionable item in the wardrobe, Martyna is a multifaceted addition to this cohort.
Having spent the past four months in India working with an NGO, Martyna values the importance of flexibility in any given situation. She lives by the motto, "Don't stress out because everything will work out!" Currently, she is juggling school, working as a research assistant, collaborating with friends on a social business venture, and volunteering for a health research study.
She also enjoys the thrill and adrenalin rush of triathlons and mountain climbing. After completing her first triathlon last summer, she's hooked to the challenge. She is looking forward to travelling to Peru to conquer Machu Picchu.
After completing her undergraduate degree in health sciences at SFU, she is thinking about pursuing a law degree at Dalhousie University which specializes in health issues.
Rebecca Savoie was born in Kamloops where she grew to appreciate good food and good company with her extended family of one brother, one step brother, three step sisters and five nieces and nephews. Her love of food has carried forward as she passionately crafts a range of gluten-free and vegan dishes, like her favourite curries, for herself, family and friends. One of Rebecca's interest is the healing power of food and she hopes to pursue this by becoming a naturopath and holistic practitioner. As part of her healthy lifestyle, Rebecca has developed a passion for being active and participated in numerous sports including rugby and volleyball. She also enjoys experiencing new places: she crossed Canada three times by car on her way to visit family in New Brunswick and has gone on an American Westcoast adventure where she stopped by one of her favourite places, Disneyland. Somewhat unfairly however, while she is stuck with her Semester in the City family, her boyfriend Devin is traveling Southeast Asia. Currently, Rebecca is in her final term studying Environmental Science with a focus in Chemistry at SFU. What drew Rebecca to Dialogue and Semester in the City was the ability to do something meaningful during her undergraduate degree. She hopes this experience will lead her to even greater positive contributions to society.
Rebecca Till was born into nature. Her life began on the remote, sage-covered slopes of Fairview Mountain in Oliver, BC where her family lived in a log cabin without electricity. Her father, an adventure-based counselor, was an early influence on her relationship with the outdoors – if it wasn’t carving out snow caves it was canoeing the Devils’ Elbow at age 10. Rebecca has lived in Alberta, on the Sunshine Coast, and in many other countries -- from New Zealand, where she explored glowworm caves, to Malaysia where she sprained her ankle in the heart of the jungle, to England where she taught at a private school. Rebecca’s love of music has led her to tour with folk bands and play the banjo. She also delights in food: growing food, making food, sharing food, but most of all, eating food. As project manager of a waste reduction pilot at two schools in the Township of Langley she implemented an ambitious four-stream recycling system, which may lead to a new district-wide recycling program. As a student of human geography at Simon Fraser University, Rebecca believes strongly in the power of experiential learning, and is excited to see how her academic and creative pursuits harmonize through the Dialogue Semester.
Spencer Toth is an accomplished third year Business student specializing in Human Resource Management and Accounting at SFU. Having grown up in Surrey, he is looking forward to escaping the suburbs and getting more involved in the Vancouver community through this program. In fact, Spencer’s passion for making a positive difference has led him to dedicate much of his free time to volunteering with various clubs and organizations throughout SFU. He firmly believes that his most practical skills have been gained through these experiences.
As a budding businessman, Spencer is aware that businesses have a direct impact on their surroundings. He is looking forward to learning more about this as well as ethical management through the completion of the Corporate Social Responsibility Certificate program at SFU in addition to his undergraduate degree.
Looking to the future, Spencer hopes to one day visit all seven continents as he is fascinated by different cultures. His first dream destination is Asia, which he plans on visiting sometime very soon. He loves spending time with his family and friends and believes that experiencing a sense of community and belonging is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Spencer is also interested in social media, reading and event planning.
His sense of humour and passion for helping others make him a valuable member of the CityStudio team this semester!
Growing up in the periphery of one the fastest growing municipalities in BC had a big influence on Michelle Vandermoor’s relationship to nature. In the “boonies” of Maple Ridge she not only came to appreciate the outdoors in a personal way, she experienced first hand the clash between rapid growth and the environment. Her interest is reflected in her choice to study environmental geography at Simon Fraser University and her impressive contributions in volunteer work. Once she got a taste for volunteering with the SFU Local Food Project she just hasn’t stopped! She’s been involved with the SFU Pocket Farmers Market, the SFU Harvest Box, and the Whonnock Community Association. All her hard work landed her a job with Sustainable SFU as the coordinator for the Solid Ground Program workshop series. She’s passionate about the further development of a local food culture on campus. And if she’s not out there selling you the best tasting local beet this side of the interior, she might be writing a children’s story for her future book, kayaking, visiting her Scottish relatives, singing, giving her all at step class, watching a romantic movie, sitting by the ocean, or simply being grateful for the support of her family and cat.
Victoria Veidner has worked in various industries which have allowed her to bring a unique perspective to everything she takes on. Her diverse skill set helped her become part of The Total Summer School, an international energy conference in Paris. It was a rigorous selection process with only 120 students selected worldwide from 24 countries. She was one of the two Canadians chosen to discuss the future of international energy. Some of her other international experiences have been through field school. Field school has strengthened her ability to adapt to new situations and challenge her own limitations. Before graduating Victoria wanted to be part of an experiential learning program and found that City Studio was a great opportunity to broaden her horizons. In the future Victoria hopes to use the skills learned in City Studio to work as a community outreach event planner and marketer with a sustainable focus. Victoria has a passion for design and has always been very organized, making event planning a natural fit for her. One day she hopes to have her own company and work in an environment that she will truly enjoy.