Bachelor in Environmental Studies (BES) Graduate Profiles

Environmental Politics 

Grace Yogaretnam

Grace Yogaretnam (BES '10)

Grace believes that the rigour of the curriculum at the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University equipped her with the leadership, research and organizational skills needed to excel in her first employment position with the Centre for Social Innovation – a hot bed for world changing solutions.  She returned to York in the fall of 2013 to study at Osgoode Hall - believing that legal frameworks could accelerate the public policy changes she lobbied hard for in the non-for-profit sector. When asked about the demands in this area, Grace said “demand is high for professionals who understand environmental issues through the filters of economics and law. Understanding all three will give you a competitive advantage.” Grace advises current students that “good grades and strong extra-curricular achievements set you apart from other undergraduate students applying for similar positions”.  Any experience including volunteer positions, can open the door to both entry level and mid-range compensation.

Roberto Del Castillo

Roberto Del Castillo (BES '12)

Roberto is a Consultant for the Environmental Security Sub-Directorate at INTERPOL. His work involves supporting and improving environmental law enforcement, and liasing with external stakeholders to establish strategic partnerships to implement various programs and initiatives for the division of Environmental Crime. He is responsible for a range of administrative and liaising duties for both law enforcement and strategic operations. He has provided support to the Unit through the development of manuals and training workshops aimed at enhancing environmental law enforcement, and the coordination of international law enforcement operations targeting illegal logging and deforestation activities. Currently, Roberto's work within the Business and Strategy team involves providing key strategic support to the various projects within the Environmental Crime division, such as the development of project strategies and funding proposals, with the aim of providing sustainability for the Unit.  Roberto graduated from the Environmental Politics stream of the BES program.

Environment & Culture

Ryan Dela Cruz

Ryan Dela Cruz (BES '14)

Ever since Ryan performed in the Miss Saigon at the Princess of Whales Theatre, acting and dance has been his passion since the age of 5.  Recently graduating from York University in Community Art Practice, Environmental Studies and having the opportunity to represent Canada in the United States and in England for Hip Hop and Krump, Ryan continues to push himself and his dance crew to the extreme.

In 2012, Ryan and his team won Much Music’s Best Dance crew and now they continue to teach and share their passion for dance to students across Ontario. Together, Ryan and Bucc N Flvr use all mediums of art to engage youths across the GTA in artistic development workshops.

Currently, Ryan a youth leader and teaches a free drop in dance class for the City of Toronto. This program is open to marginalized youths who cannot afford mainstream dance education. Ryan also works as an Adapted and Integration leader, every week he works with youths and adults who have physical and mental disabilities. He also facilitates a Para Sport program with Canadian Para Athletes at the Pan Am Gym. On Wednesday evenings, Ryan teaches 2 foundation hip-hop classes to boys who are 5-13 years old. Ryan is also part of the groundbreaking phenomenon led by Lenny Len and the Flavor Shop Tribe; is currently reaching communities around the world thanks to technology and the FIRST on demand step-by-step dance tutorial library. 

 “As a Filipino born and raised in Canada, I did not have the opportunity to learn my family dialects (Pangalatok and Tagalog). I believe in multiculturalism but never understood what it meant to identify as a Filipino. Out here, everyone represents themselves as hyphenated, multi-dimensional beings. My heART aims to articulate how I strive to resist and challenge embedded ideologies, as well as portray how my journey to illuminate nuances yielding deeper truth plays an integral part of who I am and what I plan to do.” – Ryan DC

Heather Lee

Heather Lee (BES '11)

After graduating Heather joined Call2Recycle, Canada’s first national battery recycling program. In her current role she connects with companies and provides them with the resources they need to successfully collect and recycle used batteries. In her field she interacts with sustainability professionals in a variety of industries such as aerospace, healthcare or retail. Heather is passionate about recycling and emerging trends in extended producer responsibility.  When asked about her time at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, Heather said “I’ve always been fascinated by what motivates Canadians to take a stand on protecting the environment. The faculty of Environmental studies gave me the opportunity to explore and ask questions on how behaviors change over time. In such a supportive environment, my professors encouraged me to innovate and think outside the box when it came to assigned course work – it’s something that I still do today and that has helped me to excel in my current role.”

Sarah Sumnauth

Sarah Sumnauth (BES ' 11)

Sarah is a mineral make-up entrepreneur who is the Founder and CEO of Urban Minerals – which she launched in June 2013.  Her goal is to provide a wide range of natural mineral make-up products to match women of all multicultural and ethnic backgrounds. On a day-to-day basis, Sarah spends time working with customers on customized solutions, and she also writes extensively for her blog.  In addition she focuses on diverting any waste generated in production, to achieve carbon neutrality in her work environment. 

When asked about her years in the program, Sarah says “I thoroughly enjoyed my courses at FES as they always touched on, and really opened up new topics of thought that I knew were changing lives all over the world”.  Sarah says that her BES has played a profound part in her career as a mineral make-up entrepreneur as she is able to consistently integrate ideologies of beauty and environment.  Sarah advises students to “follow [their] dreams, whatever they are”, and remember to balance the theoretical aspects of the program, with practical research for career exploration."

Environmental Management

Nicole Piercey

Nicole Piercey (BES '11)

Nicole believes education through creativity is the key to success.  She chose the Faculty of Environmental Studies to pursue her undergraduate degree due to the variety of courses offered, coupled with the interdisciplinary approach to education provided by York University.  Professors from the Faculty of Environmental Studies encourage their students to explore all angles of a tope and present their findings in exciting and innovative ways.  This drive to explore led Nicole to her first employment position at UrbanTrans North America, a consulting firm specializing in Transportation Demand Management.  As a Marketing Specialist, Nicole examined commuting patterns in North America and worked to promote alternative sustainable and affordable options to save commuters money, while reducing their daily impact on the environment.  Nicole has recently taken her passion for exploration even further, to a career with EF Education Tours.  For nearly 50 years, EF has worked with educators across the globe to teach critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration while also promoting global awareness to students.  Nicole hopes to help educate students about global environmental issues while travelling the world herself.

Urban & Regional Environments

Martina Rowley

Martina Rowley (BES '08)

Martina worked in the corporate world with Procter & Gamble Germany and UK for eight years, including four years in environmental affairs. In Canada, she has worked as an environmental planner, and has been a presenter and panel member at several public forums, as well as televised panel interviews and workshops. From 2009 until 2011, Martina worked fulltime for the City’s Live Green Toronto program as Community Animator for Toronto South.

She graduated magna cum laude with an Honours Bachelor in Environmental Studies (York, 2008) with a specialization in urban studies and focus on environmental education. She also has a Diploma in Environment & Third World Development (Open University, UK, 1996), and is an Associate of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, UK (1998).

An avid volunteer, she was active with East Toronto Climate Action Group (ETCAG) from 2005 to 2011 and acted as their media spokesperson. In 2009, she co-founded the citywide group Transition Toronto and since around 2010 she has been busy with Greening Ward 32, helping with several local beautification projects. Since 2013, Martina has been the environmental columnist for her local paper Beach Metro News.

Kurt Reid (BES '14)

Kurt is a recent graduate of the Urban and Regional Environments stream. He believes that the stream allowed him to better understand the various issues and processes that exist in urban centres.  The stream includes courses which examine local, regional, national, and global issues, providing students with information to critically analyze and solve issues that exist in urban centres around the globe.  In the Urban and Regional Environments stream, the courses vary from examining the way in which ecosystems are being changed through urban expansion, to examining the catch-22 of being a global city. Kurt believes that studying at York University provided him with the knowledge to take a holistic approach to tackling and understanding various topics.   Kurt is currently pursuing  a Masters of Environmental Studies (Planning) in FES with hopes of creating more sustainable and walkable communities. He is also a current Board Member at EcoSource, an environmental education organization.