© Submitted photo
Erika Parrill poses with Antony Card, associate vice president of research, and Mary Bluechardt, vice president of Grenfell, following convocation.
CORNER BROOK Erika Parrill had concerns about enrolling in the first master of arts in environmental policy at Grenfell, but walking across the stage as the first graduate there was a great deal of pride.
The Pasadena woman had thrown her caution to the wind some time ago, deciding to just go for it. Last week, she was the only program’s graduate to walk across the stage at convocation — with fellow graduate Carrie Fox unable to attend.
“Being the first graduate student, yeah, it was really great,” she said. “It was a really lovely convocation. I was really humbled by all the support and the people who saw me cross the stage that day.”
It being the first environmental policy masters program in Canada was an attraction for Parrill. However, for the same reason, it also brought some hesitance.
“I decided to take the plunge and do this program, and when I got there I knew I had made the right decision,” she said.
The greatest asset within the program was the professors and supervisors, according to the graduate. Their assistance and passion made it a success, she said.
“It really energized you as a student to help you in your research endeavors,” she said.
Like most programs, Parrill felt there were challenges with the program — especially with a new one. So, she believes they did a good job making some adjustments that should help improve the program for students in the years to come.
With her masters degree in hand — to go with her undergraduate degrees in commerce and political science — she is scouring the country for work. She said there are not many opportunities in the environmental field in Newfoundland and Labrador. She is currently working for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on a 90-day casual contract — a position she says she “loves.”
“I am still looking for permanent employment all across the country, and seeing where this brand new program will take me,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mike Van Zyll De Jong, director of the environmental policy institute, said the first masters graduates of Grenfell marks a huge success in the first year of the program. With another 15 in the program — five of whom are international students — there is expected to be another five graduates in the fall.
“The program is growing, and these two are just a sign of success,” he said.
With both gaining employment following their internships, Van Zyll De Jong said that speaks to the preparation they received throughout the program.
He expects the program will soon reach its capacity of 25 annually.
“A masters of arts degree in environmental policy is unique in Canada,” he said. “The fact we offer an internship in the policy environment is also a very attractive feature of the program.”
Already having students enroll from Germany, Bangladesh, Mexico, Guana and Zimbabwe, he expects the international market will present many of the program’s students.