Undergrad alumni profile – Louise Lyman

Louise Lyman

Louise Lyman

I am proud to call Carleton my alma mater.  Studying a combined honours degree in Geography and History, my home within a home at Carleton quickly became the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies.

My studies as a geography student at Carleton gave me the room to explore issues and topics that matter to me, and the flexibility to continue shaping my degree (choice of courses) to my evolving exposure and interests; my degree grew along with me which is an important distinction from programs which stifle growth as a result of an overly prescribed structure.important distinction from programs which stifle growth as a result of overly prescribed structure.

The interdisciplinary nature of my studies did not end when I graduated from Carleton in 2011.  My professors, teaching assistants, and thesis supervisor mentored me to understand the world beyond the classroom from multiple perspectives and taught me to believe in my value as an individual who possesses the skills to work with others in a variety of contexts.  This may just be the single-most important lesson I have carried with me into my post-graduation experiences.

Having focussed on the social aspects of geography and history – at whose intersection lies international development and human rights – I graduated with a drive to understand worlds unknown to me and to contribute to the smart implementation of causes that matter.

My aspirations first took me to South Korea, where I worked with Save the Children International as an English teacher and aided in their children’s rights advocacy program.  From there, I joined Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Canada (an organization that has an active chapter at Carleton), as one of their African Program Staff working as a Market Development Strategist.  My work with EWB began in Ghana and has since taken me to my current home in Uganda.  I live in the post-conflict northern region of Uganda where I am working with a MercyCorps development project – specifically an inspiring team of agricultural market innovators who work to improve the agency and participation of small-holder farmers in the markets that ensure their livelihoods.  Both of these experiences have been full of personal growth and I have only begun scratching the surface of the fascinating history and culture of the places that I live and work.

Looking back on my studies from my current set of experiences, the personal development, support and opportunities my studies provided me has made all the difference.  My biggest piece of advice for future and current students would be to get involved with your faculty and the programming they offer – especially the unique practicum option for DGES students.  My practicum with Inter Pares – a social justice organization based in Ottawa – was my first foray into social justice and development issues, and it left me wanting more!

My next academic step will be to pursue a master’s degree in International Human Rights Law, where I expect my experiences and background from Carleton will serve me well.  Here’s hoping the next academic experience was as good as my last.

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