Written by: Danielle Tessier
My name is Danielle Tessier and I was born and raised in a small Northern Ontario town called Elliot Lake. Growing up in the beautiful outdoors fostered a deep appreciation for the natural environment. I love hiking, swimming, camping, and being outside in general.
I grew up in a low-income family which has shaped my worldview in many ways. Neither of my parents graduated from high school and therefore had to work low-paying jobs to barely make ends meet during my childhood. My mémère, who was the most kind and incredible woman I’ve ever known, never learned to read or write in fact. I have been extremely lucky to be the first in my family to attend post-secondary education and I will be forever grateful to AEE Canada East for generously helping me fund this dream. Coming from this background has allowed me to be aware of what a privilege it is and created a strong desire to give back to those in need.
I am so thankful to AEE Canada East for their generous scholarship which helps ease the financial stress of university, allowing me to focus on learning and giving back.
For this reason, I’ve always understood the importance of volunteering. Even as a child and teenager I was volunteering at the local animal shelter, as a scorekeeper at Special Olympics Bowling, and as a tutor. During my previous degree at the University of Guelph studying neuroscience and psychology, I helped elderly dementia patients with eating their meals. Additionally, I have volunteered on an organic farm through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), where I learned many sustainable farming practices. I spent 2 weeks of volunteering in Costa Rica where I expanded on this knowledge along with helping to clean up the local beach in beautiful Drake Bay. I spent time volunteering for the amazing Colorado based non-profit Equitable Solar Solutions which donates used solar equipment to low-income households and charities. This not only diverts tons of waste from landfills but helps make green energy accessible to those who usually cannot access it while also lowering their electricity bills. The company’s mission of “How can we create the greatest value for those in the community with the greatest need?” resonated with me deeply.
Therefore, studying Sustainable & Renewable Engineering at Carleton University has allowed me to channel my passions for the environment and sustainability along with my love of learning into a career that will have meaningful impact on the modern world.
I have been lucky during this degree to gain valuable experience in the engineering and green energy sectors. I completed my first co-op term at the online solar start-up Solr Solvr. Helping connect homeowners and businesses with solar installers to harness the power of the sun was an amazing learning experience. During my second co-op term I worked in the Buildings division of Stantec completing arc flash studies and helping with electrical system design. Seeing one of the top 10 global design firms have a consistent commitment to sustainability was inspiring.
I am fortunate to currently be working at the Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira in Colombia studying how to integrate renewable energy into the electricity grid. This is one of the biggest challenges in transitioning to renewable energy: the intermittency of many renewable energy sources such as wind and solar can cause issues with grid stability when they reach high penetration levels. I am so grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity as a low-income student through the generosity of Global Skills Opportunity and Mitacs to work on such an important problem while gaining valuable cross-cultural experience in a beautiful country. I am so excited to see where this degree takes me. There are so many pressing issues requiring innovative solutions to address climate change and transition to renewable energy and I am very happy that this degree is preparing me for a rewarding career in this area. I am so thankful to AEE Canada East for their generous scholarship which helps ease the financial stress of university, allowing me to focus on learning and giving back.