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Environmental Science at SMU: A chance to save the world

Christa Skinner got her degree when the need for well-educated advocates is higher than ever

Christa Skinner loves the outdoors—and working in the mud—and so her job with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) couldn't be a better match for her.

First drawn to the field by a Saint Mary's University seminar about Environmental Science at her high school, Christa was inspired to choose a program that would empower her with tools to help protect the environment and make a difference in the world.

Christa found that small classes sizes at Saint Mary's allowed her to get to know all of her professors, and thanks to those close relationships, she was able to gain valuable experience working in a professor's research lab during her undergraduate degree.

Driven by her interest in environmental restoration and remediation projects, Christa pursued work in a sediment research lab that was partnered with a salt marsh restoration company.

"I was able to complete three work terms with them over the summer months and complete my courses in the fall and winter," says Christa when asked about balancing work and school. "It was a perfect fit. I wanted to pursue more research with salt marsh restoration and soil chemistry, which benefitted the company and our research team."

After completing her Bachelor of Science degree with Honours in Environmental Science, Christa went on to complete a Master of Applied Science at Saint Mary's. Her program paired her with a co-op job with ECCC, working with marine programs issuing permits for disposal at sea.

In addition to gaining solid technical skills, Christa's time at Saint Mary's helped her develop soft skills that are invaluable in a work environment, including the ability to be proactive and take initiative. In her co-op program she "treated every day like a job interview," networking with people in her field. This led to her securing her current employment position, where she and her team in ECCC's Environmental Protection Branch are a little closer to saving the world.