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Self‑determined: BMgmt grad Katrina Wonders makes her own path in occupational health

Posted by Kim Humes on June 3, 2020 in News

Bachelor of Management (BMgmt) graduate Katrina Wonders was sure of her career path before coming to Dalhousie. “I took a Law class in grade 12 and found it incredibly interesting. I was pretty much set on that career choice.”

That is, until her second-year internship at the Dalhousie Environmental Health & Safety Office (EHS). The placement sparked a passion for the field of occupational health and safety that has carried through the rest of her undergraduate studies.

“My experience was amazing. I was in charge of developing the new workplace violence and aggression program for the university. I knew I was developing something that could help every single employee on campus and that would outlive my tenure at Dalhousie. It was gratifying to use the skills I learned during the first half of my degree in a real-world situation. It was a unique opportunity and I am thankful to the people at the EHS office who made it happen.”

Katrina’s supervisor, Stephen Ellis (Fire & Life Safety Manager) spoke fondly of her contribution: "Katrina is an invaluable asset to Dalhousie’s EHS Office. Her ability to get things done with minimal supervision, her personable nature when dealing the university community, and exceptional organizational skills helped the Office move forward in important areas such as fire safety, workplace violence and general OH&S. She's a bright, gifted and outstanding student employee."

Katrina didn’t simply sit back and wait for an opportunity to present itself. Dalhousie’s Management Career Services takes an active role in supporting BMgmt students with internship job searches. Career & Recruitment Specialist Jennifer Coombs explains, “During the internship prep seminar, we discuss the importance of taking an active approach in creating internship opportunities. Kat took the initiative to prepare a report on not only one, but multiple possible internship positions with Dalhousie’s EHS Office to which she could contribute if an internship role was created for her.” Generally, BMgmt internships are 8–12 months in length; Katrina completed 16 months.

Dedication is clearly important to Katrina. In addition to her academic and professional obligations, she participated in the Dalhousie women’s varsity rowing team, which meant waking up at 5:00 am most mornings during the school year for practice and coaching in the summer. She also served as co-president on the 2019–2020 Dalhousie University Rowing Club executive. Katrina trained in violin and fiddle music for 14 years, a hobby she hopes to devote more time to after graduation. “My upbringing was full of wonderful opportunities that I am very appreciative of now.” Moving to Halifax (from her hometown of Prince George, BC) allowed her to keep her connection to the water and community.

Katrina has ambitious plans for the next five years, including obtaining a job that allows her to use the skills learned in the BMgmt program and completing a master’s degree in Occupational Health & Safety (or possibly Law – she hasn’t completely forgotten her first love). However, she also wants to experience more simple pleasures, including eventually settling down in Halifax with a home and a dog.

It’s hard to imagine her settling down for long; there are always new goals to achieve, new bars to set high and jump over. One thing is for sure: If she puts her mind to it, Katrina Wonders will accomplish it. “I am a very self-determined person and I am driven to achieve the best life I can for myself.”