Environmental Science student turns love of nature into a career path

David Denofreo photo 

To say Courtney Wilson’s childhood prepared her for a career as a marine biologist would be an understatement.

The Douglas College Environmental Science student grew up spending every Sunday in her hometown of Campbell River with her parents scouring for fossils, exploring back roads or spending time with their many pets – including dogs, birds and reptiles.

Now, Wilson is looking to make a career out of her love of science, animals and the outdoors.

“How do you not want to do something with nature after that? It wasn’t until second year that I realized I wanted to do something related to biology. Nothing else really stuck with me,” she said. “After a trip to Bamfield for a Marine Biology course, I fell in love. The hands-on work with sea creatures and a focus on marine conservation really clicked with me.”

The fourth-year Douglas College student started out as a General Studies student before transferring into Environmental Sciences after two years – a decision many people who know Wilson supported, including her Grade 12 biology teacher.

After returning to Campbell River for the summer to volunteer and gain work experience, Wilson received an email from her high school teacher letting her know he had nominated her for the Tom Easton Remembrance Bursary, which she won and is now using towards her last semester at Douglas.

“It was nice to know that I had made an impact on my teacher so much that he thought of me,” Wilson said.

Wilson credits Douglas College’s small class sizes, engaging teachers and general sense of community for the academic success she has enjoyed, noting that a big university didn’t have the same appeal.

“It’s a great thing to be a part of – you get to know the teachers, you make connections with them – instead of the big lecture halls where teachers don’t know your name,” she said. “It’s so personal and such an easy transition for me from high school to college because of that.”

An avid surfer, Wilson, who plays volleyball with the Royals, plans to take time off to travel to the South American coastline with her brother. Once she returns to Canada, she is confident she will continue the career path that she started – albeit unknowingly – so many years ago.

“This whole journey was trial and error and learning as I went along. Without the support of instructors, teachers back home and my parents this wouldn’t have been possible,” she said. “It’s OK to try something and fail at it – you move on or you try again.

“You don’t have to follow anyone else’s footprints – you can make your own way.”

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