Alum Corner with Michelle Parry

Michelle Parry took a gap year to travel and spend time with her family before attending UBC to pursue a BA in Cultural Anthropology, studying power dynamics in various modern contexts. While she initially focused on social development, Michelle later shifted her career objectives to incorporate environmental conservation. She is part of the Canadian Conservation Corps program run by the Canadian Wildlife Federation, engaging in environmental education and service projects. Michelle advises graduates to say yes to opportunities and find value in themselves. Her fondest memories of VWS include the people, camping trips, and the Grade 12 Project, which she believes set her apart in her university and life experiences.

VWS: Tell me about your work and education after graduating from the VWS (post-secondary schooling, travel, work experience, family, etc.)

MP: Once I finished High School, I took a year to travel and spend time with my family before university. I enjoyed my time at UBC and came away with a BA in Cultural Anthropology. I powered through university, working restaurant jobs and studying power dynamics within various modern contexts, ranging from world diseases to housing and gender struggles in urban cities. However, I eventually found that a career in social development alone lacked some of my career objectives. I’ve since shifted focus to incorporate environmental conversation into my future. I have to credit my education and upbringing for this, of which VWS played a role.

VWS: What kind of work/study are you involved in now?

MP: I’m currently part of the Canadian Conservation Corps program run through the Canadian Wildlife Federation. This is a service-based environmental education program aimed at 18-30-year-old “youth.” It’s a pretty fantastic three-part program, including a two-week Outward Bound adventure, a three-four month internship in the environment (I completed mine in Quebec with the McGill Gault Nature Centre), and finally ending with a service project. All flights, transport, meals and accommodation are paid for so it’s a very neat initiative. I’m in my third stage, which I will implement this fall. Hopefully, I will be introducing communities and new Canadians to our parks and how to enjoy and live with/in nature safely. Presently, I have been co-facilitating another group in the same program on Mt. Washington, Vancouver Island.

I have included some information about my journey with the Canadian Conservation Corps as part of Group 5, known as the Mountain GOATs. There are introductions and pictures from our meeting, to a Rocky Mountain adventure and finally, our placements. A couple of my blog entries about my experience were selected for the website, so if you want to hear more about what I did over my time in the CCC, please follow the links.

A Cake Worth Climbing
Gravitating Toward Gault: Letting Go of Expectations

VWS: What advice would you give to this year’s graduates?

MP: Say yes to things and find value in yourself. Sure, you can continually improve and gain skills, but at the root, if you aren’t happy with who you are, it’s going to be harder to find and do the things you really want.

VWS: What are your fondest memories of your time at the VWS?

MP: The people are pretty important, both teachers and classmates. I have to say some of the camping trips stick out in my mind and have defined me in ways I never imagined.

VWS: How did Waldorf education affect your life and your choice of career?

MP: Looking back, a few basic things were lacking but so much more made up for it. Where else can you find a university-level Philosophy class in High School? A course called “History through Music”? I tell people about that now, and not a single person has been unimpressed. I can’t speak to what the curriculum is now, but I’ve noted three essential aspects of Waldorf School that stick to me in my life. First, the focus on play and creativity in the younger grades. Second, the consistent camping trips open to all the classes (don’t underestimate this importance, especially with friends). Third, in High School, completing a Grade 12 Project put me head and shoulders above many people entering university and I think life in general. It is such a unique and worthwhile mandate, especially for the age group/life stage.

Interview date: August 2019 Ronaye Ireland, for Development

Michelle Parry
Michelle ParryClass of 2010

The Vancouver Waldorf School provides an experiential, age-appropriate approach to education based on the insights of Rudolf Steiner that inspires students to love learning, to be creative, open-minded, and compassionate. With a curriculum that integrates all academics with the arts and social learning, Waldorf Education develops not only the left and right hemispheres of the brain but the whole human being. A child’s social, emotional, physical and intellectual development is considered equally, supporting a conscious unfolding of the individuality within each student. Waldorf graduates possess capacities for empathy and clear, creative and independent thinking that enables them to carry out a chosen course of action with moral courage and social responsibility.