Second time around

June 13, 2017

Shad Tebay’s pursuit of happiness helped her engage students in practicing sustainability


This year’s convocation ceremony is going to feel like deja vu for Shad Tebay. She graduated from MacEwan with a Management Studies diploma in 2006 and entered the workforce immediately after. But something didn’t feel right. Shad wasn’t finding the kind of happiness and value in her work that she wanted.

She found that happiness with the birth of her son. The experience of caring for him reminded her of how important it is for everyone to practice environmental sustainability and make ethical choices in all aspects of their lives.

“In my personal life, I try to make the most conscious and ethical choices, whether it’s where I buy my coffee or the cleaning products I use in my house,” says Shad. “Once my son was born, I knew that it wasn’t enough and that I had to do more.”

She decided to go back to university to get her Bachelor of Commerce and find work engaging people to make positive impacts on the world. “I want to help people learn how to live with the environment rather than relying on the environment. The future does not belong to us, but to the generations to come.”

Shad spent her first year back at MacEwan with her head down. “I didn’t go out of my way to make friends,” she recalls. “And then it all kind of changed when I took a summer class.”

In that class, she sat next to the co-presidents of the MacEwan chapter of the Oikos International Club. The club encourages students to get involved in sustainable business practices. While Shad felt this seating arrangement must have been fated, she was also concerned about committing to something she didn’t have time for.

“I was working part time and I had a small child, and I don’t like to let people down when I commit to things,” she says.

So she started small—and volunteered at all of the club’s events. “I gave up not talking to anybody. I started connecting with more people and talking about my passion for being environmental responsible.” Oikos chapter co-president Erikk Opinio created the brand ambassador role for her, and soon she was project managing community events. She gave up her role as brand ambassador and took a seat on the Board of Governors.

In October 2016, Shad took on another extracurricular role as a member of the university’s Sustainability Leadership Council, a collective of student leaders from across the university working on projects meant to engage students to be more sustainable. She became project manager for MacJam, an event where the sound equipment was powered entirely by people pedalling bikes.

“We wanted to show that you can practice sustainability in a fun way—it’s really achievable,” she says.

As Shad gets ready to cross the stage at Convocation, she’s most proud of the level of engagement she helped inspire in her peers and classmates. “Oikos started out with six members in September 2016 and we’re now over 30 members. That’s one of the things I’m most proud of—not only that having more members helps the club, but it increases the impact that we can have on educating and talking to people about making ethical choices or more environmentally conscious choices.”

She hopes to continue this good work in the next chapter of her life, whether that includes pursuing her MBA or finding a career in environmental engagement—or both. Whatever direction Shad takes, it will be in the pursuit of a happy co-existence with the environment.

MacEwan University is proud to celebrate the Class of 2017. Congratulations to this year's graduates, medal recipients and distinguished award honourees.

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