We caught up with Veronika Bylicki, a recent UBC graduate, to find out more about her sustainability education at UBC and what advice she would give to incoming students about getting involved.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
A: Hello, my name is Veronika Bylicki. I just graduated with a Major in Global Resource Systems from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at UBC. This is an inter-disciplinary program that allows you to build your own degree program to suit your interests and passions. I focused on urban sustainability and environmental policy. I am born and raised in Vancouver, and fun hobbies of mine include pretty much anything outside; biking is definitely one of them.
Q: What are you up to now? How are you applying your studies and experiences?
A: I recently co-launched a social enterprise that's working on transforming the way that young people are engaged in civic processes and particularly urban sustainability challenges. I've jumped into that full-time and am working on co-creating and taking on new projects for the next little while. I'm also taking part in a global Sustainable Development Goal Innovation Forum taking place in Copenhange that's bringing together 1000 youth from around the world in Copenhagen. Overall, the next few years will be a time of exploring how I see myself contributing to the world in the urban sustainability and climate policy fields!
Q: How did you first get involved in sustainability at UBC?
A: Admittedly, I was already very much interested in sustainability when I came to UBC. In fact, it was the number of sustainability opportunities that drew me to study here! UBC has CIRS (Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability), and a really established sustainability reputation with lots of academic options. That was a huge part of my decision. Another part of the decision was the amount of opportunities: the fact that I could do exchanges, I could go to conferences, I could join all sorts of different clubs and organizations, and find my niche that way. There's just this wealth of opportunities.
Q: Any tips for incoming students who want to get involved in sustainability on campus?
A: I may be biased, but my one recommendation? Check out the Common Energy student club! In my first year at UBC, I tried to get involved in as many sustainability related clubs and programs as I could. Before I came, I did a lot of research online, searched through all of the clubs on the USI website and all that, so I had an idea of what existed at UBC. I truly found my calling when I joined Common Energy – UBC’s largest and most active student sustainability organization. I would urge any incoming student who has even the slightest interest in sustainability (or even if you have no idea about it) to get involved. Not only did I gain skills in running campaigns, conducting sustainability audits and learning about community planning, I also made some amazing friends, many of whom I know will be friends for life!
Q: What did you enjoy most academically?
A: My all-time favourite course was ENDS 221 “Sustainability by Design”, led by Professor Patrick Condon. This course was very hands on, and it expanded my interest to sustainability. Professor Condon was highly engaging, offered various perspectives and had a guest speaker most weeks to keep the class inspired!