Blog Contributor: Natalie Seniuk
In the fall of 2022, I stepped away from my career as an environmental planner and project manager to pursue a graduate degree. When I found the Master’s of Sustainability Science and Society program at Brock, I knew it was the fit I had been looking for: a program focused on sustainability and climate change but through a social sciences lens. Beyond the academic fit, Brock is also my hometown university, and I am the second generation in my family to attend, following in the footsteps of the women in my family.
Coming into the program as a mature student with a background in the environmental field, I didn’t know what exactly I would be adding to my knowledge bank. To say I have learned new things during this past year would be an understatement. Beyond acquiring new knowledge, I have been challenged to think in a new way: to dig deeper and question the potential impacts of sustainability and climate actions when value isn’t placed on the interconnectedness of the social and natural systems we live within. Having access to research, knowledge, and perspectives that are generally inaccessible outside of academic environments has reminded me of all that is happening, not just in industry, but in knowledge development and research. Working to further connect these two worlds is where I see myself applying my education when I complete my thesis next year.
As a mature student and parent to a tiny person, it was a challenging first year. Needing to juggle academic and parental responsibilities felt overwhelming at times and making choices to step back from participating in things at school and home often felt like a sacrifice. Looking back, I recognize the benefits of having a full academic and personal life at the same time, it just looks a little different than it did when it was only me. With the support of my family, and faculty and staff at the university I have been able to achieve so much…and with my second year approaching, I am looking forward to new opportunities that I’m sure will continue to challenge me both academically and personally.
This coming year, I am hoping to make a trip out of province to support my thesis project, and will be participating a graduate student experiential learning program through the university of Guelph.