Mirha Syed (2023), Double Major in Environmental Studies and Political Science, and Sustainability Pathways Certificate

Why did you choose to study in the School of the Environment?

I chose to study in the School of Environment because it offers an intersectional, multidisciplinary pathway to learn about environmental issues and solutions. This department allowed me to explore my passion for environmental justice through many perspectives. I was further excited by the opportunity to take seminar classes, conduct research projects, and find an internship in my field through this department.

What is your favourite memory from your time with the School?

One of my favorite memories from this School actually comes from first year, in ENV100. In my first introduction to the School through Simon Appolloni's course I became increasingly interested in the topics of climate change and pathways to sustainability. However, by the end of the semester, my peers and I were overwhelmed after learning about the seemingly hopeless state of the planet. On the last day of classes, I remember Professor Appolloni playing us a song on the kalimba to soothe our exam nerves and climate anxiety. It showed me that the professors in this department truly care about what they teach, and importantly, care for their students' wellbeing too.

What have you learned about yourself during your time at U of T?

By exploring a variety of courses and opportunities in different areas, I have learned that I can push myself more than I thought. I was able to gain skills in research and quantitative analysis, as well as build connections with so many people in the U of T and School of Environment community. I also learned more about my own interests regarding environmental justice and political action by participating in several extracurriculars, a Professional Experience course through the School, and a summer abroad course.  

Do you have any advice for incoming students?

I would advise you to take up every opportunity U of T has to offer! Participate in the events your department has to offer, talk to your professors frequently, and join every club that interests you. Be sure to use this time to fully explore all your interests, even if that means stepping outside of your comfort zone. Above everything else, involve yourself in the U of T community, as having a network and support system is the most important thing you can do as an incoming student.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to work for the next few years to gain experience in my field, particularly by working at an environmental NGO or in the government. Later, I hope to attend graduate school and continue learning about environmental policy and climate action.