Danielle Tessier: Recipient of the AEE Canada East Founders Scholarship (2021-22) from Carleton

Written by: Danielle Tessier2nd Year Sustainable and Renewable Energy Engineering Student at Carleton

My name is Danielle Tessier and I grew up in a small former mining town in Northern Ontario, turned retirement community, called Elliot Lake. Growing up surrounded by pristine nature caused me to develop a deep appreciation for the environment. I spent much of my time in my hometown hiking, swimming, and camping. I have also always been passionately curious, with a deep love of learning from a young age. I have been a voracious reader since childhood and some of my favourite childhood memories happened at Science North in Sudbury.

My parents always fostered my love of learning, despite neither of them graduating high school themselves. I am deeply thankful they did everything they could to allow me to pursue a university education, despite the challenges that can be faced as a first-generation student. In 2017, I completed a BSc Psychology: Brain and Cognition at the University of Guelph. This included the completion of an honours thesis where I studied the impact of dopamine on social learning in mice. I also worked as a research assistant studying the social behaviour of octopuses found off the east coast of Australia. During this time, I also volunteered feeding dementia patients at Homewood Health. I learned so many things and grew so much as a person from these experiences. I was fascinated by how the brain worked and the scientific process, leading me to plan on pursuing graduate education in neuroscience.

However, I soon realized that although I was passionate about the study of the brain, that the type of academic research I was considering was unlikely to provide tangible benefits to people for decades, if at all. My interest in the environment and sustainability was gnawing at me. Therefore, I chose to take some time off school to decide what I wanted my future to look like. To begin this journey of self-discovery, I spent a month living and working on an organic farm in Powell River, British Columbia through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) organization. I had an incredible time on this beautiful farm and learned so much about sustainable food production. This experience really solidified that I wanted to pursue a career in sustainability.

Yet, the adventure was not over! I spent the next year and a half teaching English to kindergarten and elementary students in Daegu, South Korea. I absolutely loved working with children and seeing how their inquisitive young minds worked. It was beyond satisfying when I could help guide them to the right answer and seeing something they’ve been struggling with finally click. Adjusting to a completely new culture was challenging at times, but it taught me skills like patience, flexibility, and adaptability, that I am so thankful for today.

My love of nature continued to flourish while in South Korea, so I spent much of my free time traveling the country seeing its natural beauty and hiking mountains with breath-taking views. I was also lucky enough to travel to the Philippines and Indonesia during school vacation, where I hiked rice terraces, snorkeled untouched coral reefs, and fulfilled my childhood dream of seeing Komodo dragons.

I have always had a particular interest in solar power, green building retrofits, and sustainable food production. Having grown up in a remote Northern community, I’m especially interested in the application of sustainable technology in remote areas and cold climates.

Danielle Tessier

It was during this time I decided to follow my heart and apply to study Sustainable and Renewable Energy Engineering at Carleton University. I began this degree during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, so it has been mostly online, but I have learned so many engineering principles and technical skills that I can’t wait to put to good use. I am very excited to get more time in the lab in the coming semesters and begin taking more sustainability focused courses next year. I have also been working as a Peer Assisted Study Session Facilitator through the Centre for Student Academic Support at the university. I am happy I get to combine my experience as a teacher with my developing engineering skills to help students succeed in a difficult first year calculus course. I am especially thankful for the honour of being the recipient of AEE Canada East Founders Scholarship. It has eased the financial burden of university, which
can be particularly difficult as a first-generation student. I am so grateful to have more time to spend focusing on my studies and role as a Peer Assisted Study Session Facilitator.

I have always had a particular interest in solar power, green building retrofits, and sustainable food production. Having grown up in a remote Northern community, I’m especially interested in the application of sustainable technology in remote areas and cold climates. However, I’m excited about any project that benefits the environment and the people who live in it. I am looking forward to the opportunities this degree will provide and an exciting career in sustainable and renewable energy. Thank you AEE Canada East for helping me achieve my goals.

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