Alumni Biographies

Calling all GATE alumni! We want to hear from you to find out what you are up to. GATE has provided opportunities for students to travel the world through internships and work study which has led to employment.

Fill out a short form to let us know how GATE helped you obtain your goals. Click here.

Tyler Hicks – Graduated 2019

Tyler graduated from UFV in 2019 with a Bachelors of Arts, Major in Geography. When asked about the Geography program he notes that “the importance of understanding the relationship between humans and the nature” was a valuable learning experience.

Tyler has accepted a position with the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction with the BC Government.


Melissa Koyanagi – Graduated 2018

2018 AIG Tour, Kamloops Lake

My most valuable experience was certainly the AIG to BC’s Interior that I had the pleasure of completing with my peers under the guidance of Gary Fehr and Olav Lian. This experience was in-depth, interesting and relevant to my previous studies in a wide range of subject areas, including postglacial and paraglacial processes, First Nations affairs in BC and BC’s evolving economy. I sincerely enjoyed this learning experience and it was the perfect way to cap off my undergraduate studies at UFV. Thank-you!

I am currently enrolled in the BEd for elementary school teachers at UFV. I will be completing this program at the end of spring 2019. GATE provided me with invaluable on-campus experiences which bolstered my interest in teaching and learning, as well as provided a close-knit community for me to thrive in. I made several friends in my time within the GATE department, and graduated with many fond memories.


Justine Riches and Libby Biln

Two former UFV physical geography student stars, and 2018 graduates from the UFV Teacher Education Program, are about to bring their extensive knowledge and excitement of geography and Earth sciences to Fraser Valley high school students. Justine Riches (née Cullen) is on the left, and Libby Biln (née Griffin) is on the right. Justine graduated from UFV with a BSc (Hons) in 2011, and Libby with a BSc in 2014. While undergraduate geography students both did research in the Luminescence Dating Laboratory and were supported in the summers by NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRAs), Justine also winning the prestigious Farouk El-Baz student award from the Geological Society of America for her honours research, the first undergraduate student to do so. Both were UFV Undergraduate Research Award (UREA) winners. Justine was elected student speaker at her convocation ceremony, and Libby was chosen to be student speaker at the 2014 UREA awards banquet. Both went on to do MSc degrees in the UFV Luminescence Dating Laboratory while enrolled in the Earth Sciences graduate program at SFU. Justine’s MSc research, which looked at the evolution of ancient permafrost features in southern Argentina was supported by an NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Graduate Scholarship. Libby’s MSc research involved looking at the evolution of the postglacial landscape on Savary Island, BC, and was supported by a Hakai Fellowship. Justine and Libby successfully defended their MSc theses in 2016 and 2017, respectively, and entered UFV’s teacher education program together in fall 2017.


 Heidi Martin – Graduated 2015

I was on New York study tour spring 2015. It was a phenomenal experience and allowed me to make connections between what I learned in class with what we observed in practice there, and provided practical observational experience to put on my resume.

Current Position: Development Coordinator with Aquilini Development.


Rachel Chapman – Graduate 2011

I am currently working for a company that does stakeholder engagement for resource and energy projects. We facilitate consultation to ensure projects meet their regulatory requirements, fulfill promises to stakeholders, and support local economies. Through the UFV Geography Department, I discovered my love for geography, built lasting relationships, participated in research, and traveled to many new places. It also provided me the skills and opportunity to pursue a PhD in Australia.

I am currently working for a company that does stakeholder engagement for resource and energy projects. We facilitate consultation to ensure projects meet their regulatory requirements, fulfill promises to stakeholders, and support local economies.


Natasha Cox – Graduated 2008

[Natasha is currently] working with an environmental charity completing habitat restoration, environmental monitoring, mapping and maintenance projects, environmental education and watershed planning. Volunteer: With Charitable funding advisory board, and with other environmental organizations.


Valuable experience at UFV: Geography Study Tours! (fantastic opportunities). Applied ecology/biology/geography classes – small class sizes, more time to connect with professors and students. Engaged and caring professors Opportunity to work as a research student(way back) cool concerts and student engagement on campus.


Cameron Sinclair – Graduated 2008

After working in Alaska and the Yukon for 11 years I now work for a Canadian wide Electrical Contracting Company.

Valuable experience at UFV: Learning about our environment, ecosystems and community taught me that we can’t take anything for granted and need to be responsible with our actions.


Internship Experience

Alyssa Bouchard


This past January (2018), I began my internship at the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) in their Strategic Planning & Initiatives department. On the first day I was given a work plan consisting of A LOT of Census data analysis, and to be honest, I was overwhelmed. It seemed like there were thousands of numbers and I was in charge of taking this massive Census document and shrinking it into small and accessible profiles for each jurisdiction (14) in the FVRD. After a very detailed meeting with a few planners from the FVRD I dove right in, creating Excel templates, extracting data, modifying labels and so on. The entire internship was much of the same every day, extracting data, reworking it and constantly improving upon my organizational skills. Once I was able to create a working template, my task become much easier but also remained quite menial. At the end of each day, my eyes and head would be throbbing from simply staring at little tiny Excel cells all day. But as I started to get a groove on, and seamlessly work through the data, I began to see the utter importance of the data I was working with. Much of the Census data is used to establish a wide-range of planning policies and programs throughout the FVRD as well as other governmental organizations. It became much more rewarding knowing that my work here would actually have tangible value after I was to be finished. As an ‘intern’ I was privy to internal job postings and I saw a ‘Student 1 – Strategic Planning & Initiatives’ posting for the upcoming summer. The job description read as a continuation of the work I was currently doing with additional tasks and responsibilities. It seemed like a perfect fit! I would be able to see my work as an intern through as well as continue to enhance my knowledge. I got the call for an interview and was over the moon and then a sudden wave of nervousness came over me. I had never had a formal interview before, let alone an interview for a governmental organization. I began preparing; I researched questions, did more in-depth research on the FVRD, decided what to wear, what time to leave the house; the list could go on. The interview went great (or at least I thought), and it was the next week that I got the job! I would finish up my internship on April 26th/2018 and start my Student 1 job on Monday, May 7th/2018.

It is now the end of the summer and I have gained a plethora of knowledge. I’ve learned to use programs such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop; I’ve also become much more proficient at Microsoft programs. I’ve created a 100+ page document pertaining to the Census and each FVRD jurisdiction and have also co-created a document outlining key indicators such as labour force, commuting and place of work. The knowledge I’ve gained regarding the workings of an organization like the FVRD is something I will keep with me on my journey. Next up is applying to Graduate school. My fingers are crossed heavily and I am beyond excited for what the future holds. I have both my internship and my summer student job to thank for further solidifying my aspirations of becoming a City Planner and for encouraging me to pursue a Master’s Degree.