ChemE Future Leaders: Alicia Hill-Turner (ChemE 2T0+PEY)

“There were several key things that inspired me to pursue a degree in chemical engineering” explains Alicia Hill-Turner (ChemE 2T0+PEY). “Beyond my love for science and math in high school, I was also extremely excited about all of the possibilities open to chemical engineers. Everything we see, feel, touch, and breathe has either been created, discovered or is being studied by a chemical engineer, and chemical industries are constantly changing and evolving. As a future chemical engineer, I can’t wait to play some small part in shaping the way we see and interact with the world in the future!”

Alicia, now on her PEY Co-op year at Kellogg Canada as a Packaging Development Intern, has been extremely active during her time at U of T. She has been part of the “Chemunity” for the past 3 years, taking on roles with CSChE as 2nd Year Class Rep, Professional Development Director, and most recently as Vice-Chair. She was also a mentor in Chem Club’s 1st Year Mentorship Program, and in the new PEY Mentorship program. With SKULE, Alicia was Business Lead for Your Next Career Network (YNCN) and a Sub-Committee Chair for Engineering Frosh Week. Finally, she was an Engineering Ambassador for Innis College Residence and also VP Logistics for Engineers without Borders.

“I believe that each one of these experiences have provided me with new perspectives on the world. Coming from a small town the transition to U of T truly changed how I view everything around me. Getting involved in different clubs has allowed me to cross paths with so many different people from all sorts of diverse backgrounds. As engineering students, we’re already extremely busy so joining clubs and taking on leadership roles can feel a bit overwhelming at certain points, but I don’t think I would have been as ready for my PEY year if I hadn’t made the effort to be so involved outside of class.”

What are you great at?
“I would say I’m very good at conflict resolution. As a sub-committee chair for Engineering Frosh Week last year I often had to balance the needs of different stakeholders with opposing visions. By taking a methodical approach and thinking strategically about where different priorities overlapped instead of where they were opposed, I was able to mediate a difference of opinion between the Department and the Engineering Frosh Week student committee. In the end, both parties were able to agree on the path forward for Frosh, and I think our incoming students really benefited as a result. Everybody wanted the First Years to have a great time, and to feel welcomed and supported, and I think when everybody took a step back and realized we all wanted the same thing we were all able to come up with solutions that were much better than if we were focused on what each individual felt was best.”

What’s something you’re working to get better at?
“I’m working on being more assertive, and sharing my perspective with confidence. For instance, I will be in a meeting and I will have some questions or comments to add to the discussion, but I have a tendency to hold back around big personalities and people with more experience than myself. My current PEY manager has been great about encouraging me to push myself to ask at least one question per meeting. Sitting back and listening can be good sometimes, and it can definitely feel safe, but by pushing myself to have a bigger voice in the room, I’m finding that I’ve gained some respect around the meeting table. I’m really proud of myself for that because I’m seeing that more often when I speak up, my input is appreciated and helps the discussion move in ways that might not otherwise have happened. It’s still a little scary at times, but I’m loving the challenge!”

What industry would you like to work in and why?
“I’m very interested in the cosmetics industry. Chemical engineering and cosmetics go hand in hand and I want to learn more about the processes that go into creating the beauty and skincare products that people use in their everyday lives. I think cosmetics has a lot of opportunity for reform, both in terms of regulations and creating more sustainable products. The cosmetics industry is one of the most under-regulated industries in Canada, which is surprising when you think about the fact that you are putting these products directly onto your body! I think there is an opportunity there, especially from a Chemical Engineering perspective, to look at ways to make cosmetics healthier and more sustainable, and being a part of that change would be incredibly challenging and exciting.”


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