Beyond the face: Meet Alejandra

By Melissa Nilan, Marketing and Communications

You’ve seen them on the SkyTrain and walked past them at the mall. You’ve sat beside them in bus shelters and spotted them in newspapers… but just who are the people in our 50th Anniversary ad campaign? They’re not models; these are real Douglas students, working hard to achieve their educational and career goals – just like you.

Alejandra Llanes’s childhood was a tribute to sustainability: Her parents designed their home in Colombia to be energy-efficient through maximizing natural light and eliminating the need for heating and cooling systems. They even maintained their own compost, grew crops and raised animals for food. Inspired by her parents, Alejandra plans to become an architect so she can make her own contributions to sustainable housing.

“My parents approached their decisions with the belief that the environment is something valuable that should be treated with respect. I want more housing projects to be approached with this kind of thoughtfulness, and I can help make that happen by being involved in the design process,” says Alejandra.    

Read more: Dying coral reefs drives this Associate of Science student to make change

Though she knew she wanted a career around environmental sustainability, she wasn’t sure in what capacity. But during a solo trip to France after high school, she came across an architectural project called Paris Smart City 2050, which aims to address housing and density issues with innovative sustainable architecture, in keeping with Paris’s Climate Action Plan.

Alejandra loved the concept and envisioned herself contributing to a greener future by being involved in creating similar sustainable buildings. Initially she explored environmental engineering, but didn’t like the math and physics aspect.

“I chose to go into sustainable design because the creative aspects of architecture would allow me to express myself while helping the environment,” she says.

The pro shot you’ve seen around town.
Alejandra IRL, casually elegant.

With her decision to become an architect made, she applied to the Associate of Arts in Environmental Studies at Douglas, which is giving her an understanding of the environment that she can apply to her future design work.

“The program is so versatile,” she says. “Since environmentalism can be applied in almost every field, I’ve been able to take a variety of courses, from biology to anthropology. It’s fun to learn about the environment through different perspectives.”

Read more: University Transfer student follows his heart all the way to UBC and his own business

Once she graduates, Alejandra will have 60 credits she can transfer to university. She is currently eyeing a degree in environmental design at a university in the south of France. From there, she’ll complete a Masters of Architecture to become a licensed architect, so she can start her career designing sustainable housing.

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