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SFU Grad’s appreciation of nature fuels career in environmental science
Bao Williamson entered SFU unsure where studying environmental science would lead her. This June, she is graduating with a BSc in Environmental Science, a certificate in GIS, and a job with Apex Systems, on contract for Fortis BC.
Raised in Alberta, Bao frequently turned to hiking, backpacking, and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains as a way to escape the city.
When it came time to decide next steps after high school, Bao knew that she wanted to help preserve the natural systems she loves. However, she wasn’t sure what exactly that would mean for future career opportunities.
“I always knew I wanted to study environmental science but didn’t really know what I wanted to do beyond that,” says Bao.
Uncertain about career prospects, Bao joined the co-op program and completed placements with Environment Canada’s meteorology department and wildlife service.
In the meteorology department, Bao concentrated on the Bi-National Watershed Initiative, to help harmonize the management of rivers and lakes over legal boarders. In the wildlife service department, Bao worked to understand wetland habitat loss in the Fraser lowland area as part of an ongoing initiative.
“It was really interesting to have these two experiences and feel like I’m actually contributing to something real… I’m thankful that those two co-ops were able to give me a taste of what environmental science work is like,” says Bao.
Two co-op terms coupled with experiential classroom learning set Bao up for success in her search for post-grad job-opportunities. This summer Bao will start her work for Fortis BC, helping ensure projects follow proper protocol where underground gas utility infrastructures are involved.
As Bao graduates confident in her decision to study environmental science, she shares some parting words to her classmates graduating this June.
“As young scientists I think it is our responsibility to those who are thinking about going into environmental science to lead with courage, ingenuity, and passion and to share our experiences with one another and allow us to pave the way for the change that we want to see,” says Bao.