Kylie Kerik, BASc ’19, Environmental Engineering
“As an environmental engineer it is difficult to hear all the damage we have already done to our earth, so I intend to make conscious decisions in my everyday life and to encourage others to do the same.”
I have been actively involved in the engineering community since the moment I stepped foot on campus. I knew I wanted to take advantage of all the opportunities that a university could offer me. Looking back, I am grateful for the approach I took; I never knew what these opportunities would give me, and it was more than I could have ever imagined. I was a part of the joint environmental engineering program with the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) and UBC. During that time, I was the president of the Environmental Engineering Student Association (EESA) for a year at UNBC, a year at UBC, I then went on to be VP spirit (one of seven executives) for the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) and finished my final year as the EUS sustainability director — a position I created for the EUS, for it to strive to be conscious of its sustainability efforts. Through all these levels of involvement, I found a supportive community of lifelong friends, and developed skills that will stay with me as I pursue my career in solid waste management.
Why did you choose engineering?
I didn’t choose environmental engineering for engineering, I chose it for the environmental part of it. Once I began my studies and working as an engineering student I knew that it was engineering that chose me all along. And if I had to choose again, I would still choose engineering, whether it was environmental or not.
What has been your most memorable/valuable non-academic experience studying engineering at UBC?
I believe that overall, my most valuable university experiences were not study-related, they were through my extracurricular activities. By pushing myself to be involved, I was able to develop my soft skills in organizing, planning and leadership — to name a few — and expand my network. My involvement as the EESA president drove me to plan the first environmental engineering alumni and industry event for my cohort. At this event I met an alumni who observed my drive for offering more opportunity to my peers, later that year I received a call for a summer term working in solid waste management. Without my involvement this event would have never happened and I can honestly say I would not be where I am today.
What advice would you give a student considering engineering?
If that student loves problem solving, applying science and math to real world problems and has a desire to work in the business world or do field work, then what are they waiting for? An engineering degree offers more than just technical engineering experience — you learn how to think analytically, solve problems and be professional, which can open a door to non-engineering opportunities too — it’s really a win-win at the end of the day.
The best advice I could give any student — engineering or otherwise — is to get involved, so you can learn more about your program/department, network and learn and improve on your soft skills. In addition to being involved, having summer work terms provides students with the most practical experience and make them hireable by the time they obtain their degree.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration in nature. Whether it is going for a walk or jog in a forested area (like the UBC endowment lands), or getting out to the mountains to hike, bike or ski, this is where I find clarity. It is the moments that I am at rest and peace in mind, when my mind isn’t racing with all the tasks and other items that take up space in my brain, that I get inspired to create and find my strength to persevere.
What are your plans for the future?
I am currently working for Dillon Consulting in the solid waste management group where I intend to grow my career with a focus on solid waste. In the long term I am striving to become a project manager and work in leadership. I also intend to stay highly active in extracurriculars in my life by focusing on my health and fitness, planning events for friends and the community, and being involved in my work and social community. Just because school is over it doesn’t mean I need to stop doing all the extra things I love.
How will you go on to make a difference in our world?
I will continue to put my best foot forward, finding motivation to persevere through whatever life throws at me. I will continue to network and connect with those around me, traveling the world to find different ways in which I could contribute to make our earth a better place. As an environmental engineer it is difficult to hear all the damage we have already done to our earth, so I intend to make conscious decisions in my everyday life and to encourage others to do the same. I don’t specifically know how I will make a difference in our world but I know I will do everything within my power to make that difference happen, I never give up.
View more 2019 Student Stars at apsc.ubc.ca/students/stars/2019.