#SFTop25 finalist 2017 - Sophia Yang

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Age: 21
Hometown: Calgary, Alberta (Treaty No. 7))

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When Sophia Yang was 11 years old, she read an interview with David Suzuki about what youth can do to raise awareness about climate change. It was an entrancing article that's been in her mind to this day, and prompted her interest into climate change and sustainability. She kept reading, learning and eventually led a play at her junior high school about climate change -- even inviting the Calgary mayor to attend the performance.

This constant curiosity about environmentalism is part of why she volunteered at the David Suzuki Foundation as a Public Information Volunteer, where she answered public inquiries about the work the Foundation does. One caller from Northern Ontario greatly inspired Sophia with her story about the importance of geothermal and hydro-based energy.

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It's what inspired her to start a one-year co-op position with Natural Resources Canada working on land reclamation. Sophia finds reclamation to be a sweet spot in the oil sands extraction and sustainable energy transition discussion, as her work focuses on implementing solutions to damaged land and how to plan for the future. While conducting fieldwork in the oil sands, Sophia realized that Canadian’s perception of Canada’s energy future and what’s happening in the industry can be very disconnected. She hopes her passion for policy and dialogue will help others work together to consider solutions to our energy future, with commentary that is backed up by peer-reviewed science and fuelled by policy.

Her work soared from there. Sophia attended the Alberta Student Energy Summit in 2016, where she was empowered by the young entrepreneurs around her. From attending the summit, she was chosen to attend the International Student Energy Summit in Merida, Mexico where she represented Canadian youth and the necessity for clean and viable energy sources, both now and into the future. Sophia believes we must allow knowledge about energy (renewable or otherwise) to be accessible, and to be especially mindful of solutions that are inclusive of women, youth, and marginalized populations.

As for her future? Sophia's recent Mexico trip has influenced her next steps. Her interest in working with international conservation projects and sustainable energy solutions sparked when she visited Tortugranja, a turtle sanctuary on the popular tourist destination Isla Mujeres. She was really inspired by the collaboration that staff at Tortugranja does with turtle sanctuaries globally and locally, and the passion that locals working in the environmental sector had in these regions. Sophia is excited to bring her creativity and dedication to any organization that she works with, both domestically and internationally.


Highlights

  • She served as the Events & Outreach Coordinator of Common Energy UBC—Campus’ largest student-led sustainability organization in her second year, and then as the External Director in her third year.

  • She has also worked for UBC Sustainability as a Project Coordinator, and collaborated with students of several like-minded clubs in organizing UBC’S Inaugural Systems Thinking Sustainability Month in March 2016.