VIctoria Sheppard (MES'05) in Mathare Valley, Kenya


Current Role: Policy Analyst, Fisheries & Oceans Canada

Grad year: 2005

Degree: Master of Environmental Studies

Nickname: Everyone calls me Vic but it’s not a super-original nickname. There were four of us girls who used to hang out all the time and they used to call us “The Lump” which is not overly complimentary but we did spend an awful lot of time together. They also used to call me “Captain Safety” because I’m always the person on camping trips to say, “Be careful around the fire!” and “Do we have a first-aid kit?”

Dalhousie Alumni Association: Why did you decide to attend Dal?

Victoria Sheppard: Actually it was my interactions with one of the professors at SRES [the School for Resource and Environmental Studies] when I was looking for master’s programs – he sold me.  [The professor was Dr. Martin Willison, who ended up being Victoria’s thesis advisor.] He was so welcoming and excited about the type of work I wanted to do. And I just got a really good feel from the school. For someone who came out of doing an undergrad in marine biology at Guelph, I loved that the MES program was a lot more open with courses in so many different subjects and I was going to get exposure to so many different things.

DAA: Where did you live while you were at Dal?

VS: On Tower Road in a really hilarious 1960s apartment which has now been turned into condos. I loved it.

DAA: Where could you be found most often on campus while you were at Dal?

VS: The Grad House!

DAA: Favourite place to study while at Dal?

VS: By a sunny window in my apartment.

DAA: What was your biggest distraction while you were at Dal?

VS: The Grad House! Also, because I lived in the South End, I did a lot of walks in Point Pleasant Park, but they weren’t really a distraction – they were essential for survival.

DAA: What was your favourite cafeteria food on campus?

VS: The Grad House! I ate a lot of Grad House samosas. And the peanut butter balls from a random little place at Spring Garden and Robie St. (Does anyone remember the place?)

DAA: What is your favourite Dalhousie memory?

VS: I was really involved in the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. One of the volunteers, and a SRES alumna, put on the ‘no-talent’ talent show for a few years and it was really funny. So participating in that as a fundraiser for CPAWS was my favourite memory.

DAA: How did your Dal experience prepare you for your current role?

VS: It was beyond formative. My Dal experience completely changed my life. It opened my eyes to a career in environmental work; it exposed me to all the various options. Dal was huge for me. I met all kinds of interesting people, professors and colleagues and friends. I wouldn’t be the same person, I wouldn’t be in this job, if I hadn’t gone to Dal. It opened the doors to my future.

DAA: What do you see as the best thing about being a Dal alum?

VS: SRES brings a group of students to Ottawa every year to expose them to government jobs, so I have helped organize their visits to DFO. I really like maintaining that connection with current SRES students – helping people scope out what they might want to do, talking about options.

DAA: Do you have any words of wisdom for current Dal students – something you wish you had known when you were a student?

VS: To seek out and take as many opportunities as you possibly can now because you never know where they will lead you. Volunteer with different organizations, participate in Dal Dance, get involved in any on-campus activity. Just make the most of all the opportunities – I didn’t do that in undergrad but I did during my master’s and had such a different and better experience and it opened all kinds of doors. Make the absolute most of your time at Dal because when you get out in the working world there isn’t quite as much opportunity. Campus is rich with opportunity.