Officer of Assessment and GIS, Toronto Catholic District School Board
Bachelor in Environmental Studies, 2013
“The Las Nubes Field Course was an exceptional experience. I made friends, learned about the Costa Rican culture, and lived with locals. Even though my Spanish wasn’t strong, we all lived in harmony”
Olubunmi Kusimo always looked up to her father who was an avid lover of the environment and worked as a Mining Engineer for Royal Dutch Shell, the multinational oil and gas company. Growing up, her favorite memories with her father were watching documentaries and engaging in intellectual conversations about the environment. He was always determined to make better decisions concerning the preservation of the environment – He did this by going to oil spill meetings with the aim of improving the processes for oil spill prevention. This instilled in her at a young age, the belief that the earth is a precious gift that needs to be preserved.
With strong passion for science in the environment, Olubunmi took a course in Environmental Management York University which piqued her interest in Environmental Studies. During her undergraduate studies she joined the Bachelor in Environmental Studies Students’ Association (BESSA), became a York University orientation leader, completed a certificate in Geographic Information System (GIS), studied in Costa Rica, and did an internship in Nigeria for the National Centre for Energy Efficiency and Conservation – A United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
One of the highlights of her studies was her time spent in Costa Rica. “The Las Nubes field course was an exceptional experience. I made friends, learned about the Costa Rican culture, and lived with locals. Even though my Spanish wasn’t strong, we all lived in harmony”. To this day, Olubunmi still keeps in contact with many of the professors she met during her studies – Liette Gilbert, Kevin Yam, Mark Winefield, Peter Love, and Anna Zalik.
After graduating with her Bachelor in Environmental Studies, Olubunmi took some time off to travel. Afterwards, she secured a paid internship as a GIS Specialist at the City of Markham. After her time at the City of Markham, she applied for a position with World Vision Canada. The interviewer at World Vision Canada had gone through an educational journey similar to Olubunmi – he had gone to Costa Rica, and completed his Master’s degree at York University. Following the interview, Olubunmi was offered the position as a GIS Analyst and Data Collection Specialist.
After about two years working with World Vision Canada, Olubunmi was approached by an urban planning consulting firm – Watson and Associates Economists Limited to work as an Analyst on the School Board Planning team. She accepted the position where she analyzed census trends and data for school boards and their school boundaries. Her work experience at Watson eventually positioned her for a more senior position with the Toronto Catholic District School Board where she currently works as the Officer of Assessment and GIS.
All throughout, Olubunmi was keen on finding new experiences and opportunities – she kept herself busy by networking through York University events and others, volunteered with the City of Toronto’s Live Green Toronto, and utilized York’s Career Centre which directed her to events such as Green Drinks, the ESRI Conference, and GoGeomatics socials.
Her advice to incoming and current students? “Network while you’re in school as much as you can. It also helps to talk to people who are going through the same thing – your peers. Get into internship programs prior to graduating from the University, because [they] prepare you for the job market. Try to break out of your comfort zone by actively reaching out to people who are in the industry through York’s alumni, LinkedIn, and lastly take advantage of the workshops and events offer by York University’s Career Centre”.
Olubunmi Kusimo is a solid example of the drive that the Faculty of Environmental Studies instills in its students. She is an ambitious and passionate leader in her field.
Written by: Abigael Pamintuan