Meet our 2015 Dean of Environment’s Scholarship for Excellence winners

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Dean of Environment’s Scholarship for Excellence recognizes students for their achievements pertaining to the environment outside of the classroom. To be eligible they achieved an 85 per cent admission average or above, and showed a dedication to extra curriculars. 

The scholarship is worth $7,500 over the first two terms of the students' first year. 

Scholarship

Interested in applying next year? Apply for the  Dean of Environment’s Scholarship for Excellence.

Gavin Hermanson

GavinHometown: Hamilton, ON, Canada

Program: Planning

Even before coming to Waterloo for Planning, Gavin cultivated his interest in urban development while being active in Hamilton politics. In a recent municipal election, he volunteered on the campaigns of a mayoral candidate and a city councillor whose platforms reflected his own vision for better public transit and urbanization. He believes that effective policy is necessary for positive change and that the environment needs to be a priority.

Gavin also served on his ward’s Participatory Budgeting Advisory Committee, the first of its kind in Canada, where he helped design a process to increase public participation in deciding how to spend city funds. Through the committee, Gavin helped initiate public projects to improve his city, such as new bike lanes, water fountains, benches and a pedestrian bridge.

Q&A with Gavin

Why did you choose to study Planning at Waterloo?

I chose Planning because of the excellent reputation of the School of Planning and because of the Co-op element of the program.

What are you most looking forward to during your time here?

“I'm most looking forward to learning more about Planning and the various technical and professional skills that I'll need to be a planner.”

What do you plan to do after completing your degree?

“I'd like to further my education, either through a master’s in planning, a degree in public policy or a similar field.”

What do you think is the most significant environmental challenge or opportunity facing society today?

“I strongly believe that smart urban and regional planning is our greatest opportunity. Smart planning of our built environment can have a tremendous effect on limiting our impact on the natural environment.

How do you hope to personally help address this?

“I'd like to be a part of the solution by bringing my own ideas to the table and changing the way we view urban and environmental issues.”

What do you like to do in your spare time, when you’re not trying to change the world?

“I enjoy playing sports, hiking, reading and hanging out with my friends.”

Hannah James

HannahHometown: Saltspring Island, BC, Canada

Program: Knowledge Integration

An active volunteer and avid traveller, Hannah has been active on the environmental scene across the globe: from simulating oil spills with advocacy groups and volunteering at Ocean Networks Canada in Victoria, to spending time amongst the Sapara people in the Amazon, to travelling through the Northwest Passage in the Arctic to collect data for climate research.

More recently, Hannah spent her summer before coming to Waterloo at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel participating in an international summer science program. And she still finds time to pursue her passion for sports—you can find her on the soccer field this year playing for Waterloo’s varsity team. Go Warriors!

Q&A with Hannah

Why did you choose to study Knowledge Integration at Waterloo?

“I chose Knowledge Integration for the emphasis the program places on interdisciplinarity and for the emphasis on individual learning. I was ecstatic to find a program that would offer me much more flexibility and that had a stronger skills base than a traditional Arts and Sciences program.”

What are you most looking forward to during your time here?

“I am looking forward to getting into my core Knowledge Integration courses, but also to exploring further into the disciplines that really interested me in high school and seeing where that will lead me over the next few years.”

What do you plan to do after completing your degree?

“Part of my motivation in choosing Knowledge Integration was that it would give me the ability to do many different things with my degree after I had finished it. I hope to gain a large base of skills that could allow me to do various things (of which I hope to have a better idea of after my studies) and also to continue on to graduate studies.”

What do you think is the most significant environmental challenge or opportunity facing society today?
“Inarguably the greatest challenge facing society today is anthropogenic climate change, and the associated irreversible effects of temperature change and ocean acidification. My different environmental experiences have all echoed the global need to facilitate and participate in real discussions, across disciplines, about climate change.”

How do you hope to personally help address this?

I hope that Knowledge Integration will give me the skills to understand and address these cross-disciplinary issues in whatever setting I find myself in.

What do you like to do in your spare time, when you’re not trying to change the world?

I play on the Waterloo varsity women’s soccer team, which for now occupies a fair amount of time. After our season wraps up I am hoping to try hockey for the first time in beginner intramurals.”

Peter Voltsinis

PeterHometown: Toronto, ON, Canada

Program: Planning

From picking up litter at the Toronto Zoo as a small child to starting an environmental campaign as a young adult, Peter has demonstrated a passionate commitment to the environment. He describes this commitment as “a fundamental cornerstone” of his worldview and as a foundation for his ethics and future aspirations.

Peter is active in the Toronto Environmental Alliance and in his high school’s Eco-Club, which received gold-level certification from Eco-Schools Ontario for their work installing a butterfly garden, diverting over ten gallons of batteries from landfills, installing roof-top solar panels, and being the first school in its district to install a bottle-filling station. Peter also founded the HEADS UP campaign, which promotes engagement with the natural world.

Q&A with Peter

Why did you choose to study Planning at Waterloo?

“My decision was based on my interest in logical approaches to the reconciliation of land-use issues.”

What are you most looking forward to during your time here?

“Embracing the wealth of information offered by the university’s faculty members and students, and the invigoration of my passions resulting from participating in such an innovative establishment. It is very exciting.”

What do you plan to do after completing your degree?

I intend on pursuing further academic opportunities and potentially becoming a Doctor of Philosophy in Planning.

What do you think is the most significant environmental challenge or opportunity facing society today? How do you hope to personally help address this?
“Ranging from minute townships to complex metropolises, I believe that the most concrete environmental opportunity is based on the sustainable configuration of human environments. Urban planners and politicians must collaborate with one another in order to organize societies in manners that promote environmental consciousness. Hence, my enrolment in Honours Planning [will help me participate in] the reconciliation of such issues.”

What do you like to do in your spare time, when you’re not trying to change the world?

“In addition to my devotion to environmental conservancy, I am equally dedicated to spending time with my friends and family members. It is evident that time can be very restricting – thus, for me, the opportunity to bask in the beauty of each experience with one’s friends is invaluable.”

Charlotte Montgomery

CharlotteHometown: Peterborough, ON, Canada

Program: Environment and Resource Studies, co-op

Charlotte’s passion for the environment began at a young age. In elementary school, she applied for and was awarded a provincial grant, which she used to plant native tree species and increase biodiversity on her school’s grounds.

Throughout high school, she continued her work in this area. Some of her many accomplishments include a leadership role in the Eco-Schools group, traveling to Honduras as part of a team that helped construct a school and stoves, and working for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry as an Environmental Youth Stewardship Ranger. As a stewardship ranger, she worked on habitat restoration, local trail construction, and the removal of invasive species.

Q&A with Charlotte

Why did you choose to study Environment and Resource Studies at Waterloo?

“I chose Environment and Resource Studies because of the flexibility of the program, which will allow me to attain a minor in other areas of interest, for example political science and law. Additionally, the co-operative program will allow me to gain practical work experience in my areas of interest.”

What are you most looking forward to during your time here?

“I am looking forward to learning more about environmental and global challenges with peers who share similar interests. I am also looking forward to joining environmental clubs and intramural sports to develop new relationships.”

What do you plan to do after completing your degree?

“I am planning to attend law school to further my studies in environmental law.”

What do you think is the most significant environmental challenge or opportunity facing society today?

“Empowering all individuals to convert their mind sets to incorporate sustainability at both a local and global level. Our dependence on fossil fuels, demolition of natural habitats, and indifference to our devastating impact has precipitated seemingly irreversible environmental damage.”

How do you hope to personally help address this?

I will address this challenge by taking personal responsibility to implement sustainability into my own life and others around me. Participating in environmental groups around campus will help me to promote the importance of environmental protection.

What do you like to do in your spare time, when you’re not trying to change the world?

“I enjoy travelling, spending time outdoors, reading books based on environmental issues, being with friends and family, and also playing sports.”

Hannah Hill

Hannah HillHometown: Alliston, ON, Canada

Program: Environment and Business

Hannah began exploring her interest in the environment in high school, when taking a course on environmental resource management. She then organized an Earth Day event to promote green initiatives at her school, and has since become an active voice for the environment through her involvement in various national youth committees. She is a member of the Young Canadians Roundtable on Health, where she sits on the environment-focused working group, and has also participated in the RCMP’s National Youth Advisory Committee.

Attending the Arctic Youth Ambassador Summit in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Hannah helped compose a final communiqué outlining sustainable solutions to food security, which was sent to the prime minister, the environment minister and other government officials.

Q&A with Hannah

Why did you choose to study Environment and Business at Waterloo?

“The Environment & Business program at Waterloo married two of my passions, environmental studies and business, and also offered cooperative opportunities, which appealed to me for future employment. This unique program is not offered by any other school and is the reason I choose to pursue my studies at Waterloo!”

What are you most looking forward to during your time here?

I am looking forward to being academically challenged by my professors and working with like-minded peers in my cohort. I hope to grow in my knowledge of the environment and business, and in turn, put it to use in the global marketplace beyond my time at Waterloo.

What do you plan to do after completing your degree?

“I'd like to either pursue a career in corporate sustainability or attain a master’s degree.”

What do you think is the most significant environmental challenge or opportunity facing society today?

“I think that the Arctic is one of the most significant environmental challenges, but also one of the most significant opportunities. I have witnessed the challenges and opportunities facing the Arctic firsthand on two separate trips to Iqaluit, Nunavut. I believe that it important that governments, environmental groups, and Arctic residents work together to ensure a prosperous future.”

How do you hope to personally help address this?

“I hope to personally address this challenge by incorporating it into assignments and discussions inside and outside of the classroom in order to increase awareness to those surrounding me. Additionally, I'd love to address this issue in my 4th-year environment and business project with my peer group.”

What do you like to do in your spare time, when you’re not trying to change the world?

In my spare time, you can find me running or biking around Waterloo's beautiful campus. I also enjoy travelling and plan to complete a semester abroad in Iceland as a part of my degree.

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