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Photo of Leah Luciuk by Mo Phung.

Top 30 under 30: SENS alumni named as national sustainability leaders for 2018

Leah Luciuk and Palash Sanyal, both alumni from the School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS), were selected for Corporate Knights magazine’s list of top thirty sustainability leaders under age thirty in Canada for 2018.

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Photo of Leah Luciuk by Stephanie Foucault.

Luciuk was among the first group of students to complete the Undergraduate Certificate in Sustainability offered by SENS.

She earned the certificate alongside her undergraduate degree in Environment and Society from the College of Arts and Science at the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

“I feel honoured to be recognized for my work as a ‘Top 30 Under 30,’” said Luciuk. “I am really lucky to be able to focus on my passion for the environment, both through my job and volunteer work.”

After graduating in 2015, Leah quickly found work in the environmental field.

“This past June, I started a new role with Saskatchewan Parks that combines the knowledge I gained in university with the experience I earned in the work force,” added Luciuk.

As a Park Program Coordinator, she helps to protect natural and recreational areas. She also volunteers with Ocean Bridge, a cohort of youth from across Canada who raise awareness for ocean health and complete local service projects in their communities.

Luciuk felt that the Certificate in Sustainability helped her to stand out from the crowd after graduation.

“I chose to take the SENS certificate because it offered additional skills in the areas of political science and environmental health,” said Luciuk. “I was looking to enroll in more science courses to help balance out the humanities side of my undergraduate degree.”

She liked that the certificate offered a practical way to network with faculty and other students who were also working to help create a more sustainable world.

“As one of the first students to graduate with the certificate, it felt like I was paving the way for future students too,” added Luciuk.

During her time at USask, Luciuk was very involved with the environmental community. She was the president of the Environmental Studies Student Association and often collaborated with School of Environment and Sustainability Students’ Association.

She wanted to help other students wishing to carve their own path in the environmental field.

“I continue to tell current and future students at USask to look into the SENS certificate, even if they are studying outside of the environmental realm. The best thing about the certificate is that it can accompany any degree,” said Luciuk.

Although she has accomplished a great deal since she graduated, Luciuk still looks back on her days as a university student with fondness.

“The ENVS 401 course was the highlight of my time at university. SENS professors Colin Laroque and Philip Loring genuinely inspired me to ask the people I worked with to think differently, just as I was asked to look at sustainability through different lenses during the SENS course,” Luciuk stated.

She believes that the skills she developed as a student helped her to become one of the young leaders in sustainability today.

“Play to your strengths,” Luciuk advises other students. “Without the certificate and SENS, I would not be the person I am today, nor would I have the knowledge and skills that have helped me to make a difference.”

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Palash Sanyal.

Palash Sanyal, another SENS alumus, was also on the “Top 30 under 30” list. He graduated with a Master of Water Security (MWS) degree from SENS in 2018.

In addition to Sanyal’s focus on the energy-food-water nexus, the magazine noted that he has collaborated with TED Talk, Global Voices, WaterAid Bangladesh, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and other international organizations.

“I feel privileged and humbled, especially coming from an impoverished background," said Sanyal. "I think this was possible partly because of the exposure the School of Environment and Sustainability provided through the Master of Water Security program.”

He was also eager to give credit to the University of Saskatchewan faculty that helped him to achieve his success.

“My supervisor, Karl Lindenschmidt; SENS program coordinator, Yanping Li; faculty like Bram Noble, Graham Strickert, Maureen Reed, Tim Jardine, Lalita Bharadwaj, Jeffrey McDonnell, Alec Aitken, Philip Loring; and many others provided invaluable support,” he said.

Sanyal also offered advice for other students who are interested in an environmental career. 

“Have an intention to do good,” he said. “With good intentions, you can go a long way.”

“Also, learn from the mistakes and failures,” he added. “The process of making mistakes is the process of growing. Reach out, connect, and ask questions.”

Sanyal will continue to focus on sustainability and has big plans for the years to come.

“My plans for the future involve serving Canadian interests at the national and international level, especially in environmental policy,” he said. “I also intend to continue working with marginalized communities.”

He noted that Canada has many environmental issues that require critical attention.

“For now, I am building two platforms,” he said. “On Climate Change will become a repository of the adaptive approach taken by youths worldwide and On Facilitation focuses more on conflict situations in communities, institutions, and how to manage such situations effectively.”

The future looks bright for Sanyal and Luciuk, who, despite thier success so far, seems like they are just getting started.

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Read the Corporate Knights article here

To learn more about the Master of Water Security program at the School of Environment and Sustainability click here.

To learn more about the Undergraduate Certificate in Sustainability at the School of Environment and Sustainability click here

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