Hometown: Vernon, BC

University: Quest ’18

Why Quest?

I attended a college fair not really knowing what program I wanted to go into. So when I learned all about Quest and how students are able to take Foundation courses for the first two years, which essentially gives you university level knowledge through a bunch of different courses, I thought, “this sounds awesome!” Then I visited the Quest campus. How could you not get sold on this beautiful place? Quest is so unique. This was my opportunity to be a part of something really different and cool. I couldn’t turn it down!

What’s your Question?

What is the nature of olive oil?

What inspired you to get involved in the olive oil industry?

I have always loved food. So when I got home to Vernon for the summer after my first year at Quest, I got a job at a local olive oil and balsamic vinegar boutique that had just opened up on Main Street, my favourite spot in town. I applied, got the job, loved it and worked all summer long. I enjoyed the organic chemistry and nutrition side of things. I have always valued olive oil as a commodity, and to learn about its health benefits was super influential for me.

Tell me a bit about your Experiential Learning opportunity with Boundary Bend in California.

I started taking chemistry courses, and then switched emphasis to organic chemistry, focusing on fatty acid synthesis and digestion, among other elements. When it was time to consider my Experiential Learning opportunities, I was referred to Boundary Bend, which is an Australian-based company in California. Their olive oil is called Cobram Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

I was anticipating doing my EL in prime harvesting time in November, but they said they’d like to have me on board for August to study the oil accumulation in the olives and work on data collection. It completely encompassed everything I wanted to do: be hands-on in the field, meet the farmers, be present in the lab and attend events with consumers. I ended up staying there for three-and-a-half months.

What makes for a good olive oil?

Find a fresh source. You should always know where it’s from—if it doesn’t say on the bottle, that’s probably a bad thing. Also, it doesn’t get better with age. Do not treat it like a bottle of wine! Consume it as soon as possible.

What’s your go-to recipe including olive oil, Francesca?

I eat olive oil with all my meals, but probably something simple and fresh, like sliced tomatoes and basil, a little onion, salt, pepper, olive oil.

You’re writing a book! What’s it about and when can we read it?

My book is going to be my Keystone Project. It’s a comprehensive guide that follows the olive to oil, and then into human use, so it is pretty much an all-encompassing exposé from fruit to cooking.  It will cover olive varieties that are common to California. I’ve got about five chapters right now, but plan to keep writing. The company that I’m going to work for in Australia has plans to publish it once complete so that’s something really exciting to look forward to.

What do you plan to do after Quest?

At the end of my Experiential Learning at Boundary Bend in California when my internship was complete, I was offered a full-time position in both Australia and California. I’m leaving for Australia five days after the graduation ceremony at Quest. Flights are all booked and ready to go!

“There once was a bag they called Tim,” begins the story of a plastic bag’s journey to a composting facility.

The short stop-motion video is produced and narrated by Quest University students in Ellen Flournoy’s Rhetoric class and is meant to educate the community about what happens when plastics end up in the compost. In the video, Tim the bag’s friendships with local fruit and vegetables are short-lived: they decay, while he is doomed to spend the next 100 years alone.

Read the full article


Quest Feature Samantha Leigh ‘19

Hometown: Guelph, Ontario

University: Quest, ’19

Question: How do people use spaces, and what makes a space useful?

Favourite place on campus: Anywhere with a view of the mountains.

On residence life: I love the little family I have with my roommates. It’s so great to come home after a hard day of homework and eat dinner together.

Why did you choose Quest? My grandpa asked where I wanted to go to school, and I kind of flippantly replied, “Anywhere in BC.” He googled universities in BC and Quest popped up. As we read, I started tearing up. It was everything I could want from an education in one beautiful place: experiential learning, high-level academics, and a community where everyone is as passionate as I am.

So what would you say is your passion? Creating simple solutions to address more complex problems.

You’re doing a TEDx talk called “There’s No Such Thing as ‘Garbage’” on March 3. What will you be talking about? The waste management system I helped implement at Quest, based on previous research I had conducted. In early 2017,  our landfill waste contained 70% materials that could have been recycled or composted. In about 4 months with the new system, that number dropped to 29%.

People want to do what’s right: the contamination isn’t just because they’re lazy. But the system can be stressful and confusing. We need to figure out what the problems are and target them, to make it easier for people to make the right disposal choices.

You know, it was a dream of mine in grade 11-12, that I would have something important enough to share at a Ted Talk—an idea worth sharing. Being approached and asked to speak is definitely a fulfillment of this dream.

What next? Graduation! And this summer, I will complete my Keystone Project with a Quest Summer Fellowship. I’m going to conduct research assessing behavior around waste management at cafés in the District of Squamish.

Favourite quote:  “There’s so much humanity in a love of trees, so much nostalgia for our first sense of wonder, so much power in just feeling our own insignificance when we are surrounded by nature…yes, that’s it: just thinking about trees and their indifferent majesty and our love for them teaches us how ridiculous we are—vile parasites squirming on the surface of the earth—and at the same time how deserving of life we can be, when we can honor this beauty that owes us nothing.” ― Muriel BarberyThe Elegance of the Hedgehog

Arts at Quest

With a creative and talented student community, it’s no surprise that the Arts represent a flourishing component of Quest culture. Our Artist in Residence program brings creative artists to the university for 6-week campus residencies. This special program allows us to provide a wide variety of art-based opportunities and courses for students throughout the year.

A Keystone documentary that captures the testimonies of Salvadoran women in an attempt to humanise the gruesome statistics about gender violence in El Salvador.  She wants to translate the inner thoughts and emotions of women into images and sound. The narrative will be done through interviews and will be paired up with images that both me and the women sharing their stories will choose.

View the video here.

Miguel Chiau is a Mastercard Foundation Scholar in the Program at African Leadership Academy (ALA), pursuing his studies at Quest University Canada. He spoke at the Walrus Talks in Ottawa in September 2017.

Quest Women’s Basketball volunteered again at the 2017 Annual Herring Sale for Fishermen Helping Kids with Cancer at the docks in Richmond. The founding principle is that 100% of the money raised must be spent on kids who are being treated for cancer at BC Children’s Hospital. For more information about the event or how to volunteer for next time, please visit: www.fhkwc.ca

Quest student Aaron Slobodin has been recognized for his perseverance with a Crohn’s and Colitis Canada AbbVie IBD Scholarship worth $5,000. He was awarded this scholarship along with 15 other Canadian students who manage colitis and Crohn’s while attending post-secondary school. Despite the challenges, Aaron plans to study abroad in Hungary this year, complete his degree, and pursue master’s studies after graduation.

Aaron recorded a Facebook video post talking about colitis and his life at Quest, and the Squamish Chief published an article.

Fellow student Arlette Akingeneye had an opportunity to chat with Aaron.

Arlette Akingeneye: Maybe we could start by you telling us a little bit about yourself.

Aaron Slobodin: I have been here for five years now at Quest. I grew up on Denman Island which is a small Island off Vancouver Island. At Quest, I am specializing in math, more of pure math than applied. And I am currently working on graduate applications to do a master’s.

AA: What is your Question?

AS: My Question is “How Do Revolutionary Ideas Change Mathematics?” For my Keystone, I did work with Sarah Mayes-Tang, and it was really due to her area of research.

AA: Why did you choose to come to Quest?

AS: It sounds really funny, but I did not apply anywhere else. I decided that I wanted to come to Quest. At my high school, we had people who came around showcasing universities, and I think Spencer, who was working with Admissions at the time, came by, and I fell in love with it [Quest] and how personal it was. Having access to professors was really appealing to me and being able to form relationships with them. So, I decided that I wanted to come.

AA: Tell us about receiving the Crohn’s and Colitis scholarship. How was the application process? And what does this mean to you?

AS: This is my second year applying. The application process is not too intensive. You have to get a formal diagnostic filled out by your specialist. I got reference letters from Sarah Mayes-Tang and Richard Hoshino. And they also ask you to write a 500-word essay. They give you guidelines of things they are looking for. If you answered everything in the guidelines, it would really be difficult to fit in within 500 words. So, I took it as an opportunity to tell them about my background with colitis and managing it while at university. I think it’s officially given to achieving academic excellence in spite of the conditions. So, I tried to highlight how I am trying to do that.

AA: What does it mean to you receiving this scholarship?

AS: I was really excited to get it. It was a really big relief. I feel pretty fortunate that there is this body of people which is Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. I haven’t met anyone in Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, but they have this foundation that gives scholarship to students across Canada. So, I am really lucky that they saw my application and they were willing to support me without knowing me. That was really huge for me.

AA: Is the scholarship meant to only help you with your studies or you can use in other areas?

AS: It is supposed to go directly to your studies, so tuition, but they make it pretty easy that you can apply it to either fall, summer, or spring semester. You can apply it to blocks or other related materials.

AA: How many people were recipients of this scholarship?

AS: They gave it to 15 people across Canada. Usually, they give 10 scholarships, but this year, they gave 15 in celebration of Canada 150.

AA: If we go back in the story, when were you actually diagnosed with Crohn’s and colitis?

AS: Crohn’s and colitis are actually different conditions. I was diagnosed with colitis end of first year, just over three years ago. And I guess symptoms started to develop when I was here, and then it got worse and I had to take some time off school.

AA: How has your experience at school been like, studying and having to go to the doctor most of the times?

AS: The block program is really good. I do not think I would have finished a semester anywhere else. I have taken either eight or nine blocks off during the four years. I was fortunate I was in the block program. I guess it has not been easy, but everyone has got their own things that make it difficult in university. Treating my colitis has not been straightforward, so I see my specialist once or twice every two or three weeks. I think the faculty at Quest has been really supportive. Often, I would go to a classroom and say “hey …just so you know, I am currently having some medical issues.” I kind of give them a little bit of rundown, and I always receive support. Without that, it would have been harder, you know!

AA: What is one thing that people do not know about you?

AS: I think most people do not know that I have colitis. So, that would be something that people do not know. Friends know, but it does not come across a lot in conversations. I am also hoping to do this international math program in Hungry as an exchange in the spring.

AA: What are your plans after graduation?

AS: I am hoping to go straight into grad school. The exchange I am hoping to do this spring, it will finish off my credits at Quest, and I hope in the fall of 2018 to be at one of the universities I am applying to, to continue my education in math.

I think the funny part I would add is …having colitis, and I think this will fall for Crohn’s as well, there are things you appreciate that other people do not appreciate. It kind of gives you a new appreciation of washrooms – the accessibility to washrooms – which is kind of funny.

Quest LEAP / The Katherines

This is The Katherines, a band of talented musicians and students who are part of the LEAP Program at Quest University Canada. LEAP isn’t just for athletes; it’s a perfect fit for performers too. Quest’s Liberal Arts education provides them with a well-rounded set of skills that allows them to pursue their studies while they reach new musical heights.

Quest University Canada student Miguel Orlando Chiau, a Mastercard Foundation Scholar, is among the speakers who will present at The Walrus Talks Africa’s Next Generation (Ottawa) on September 26. Miguel is a second-year student from Mozambique studying computer science. He is passionate about Africa and social inclusion, and envisions himself bringing change to his continent and believes that higher education is a prerequisite for achieving this goal.

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Herieth Ringo: Mastercard Foundation Scholar

Quest University Canada student Herieth Ringo, a Mastercard Foundation Scholar in the Program at African Leadership Academy, authored the essay To Build Confidence, Young Africa Must Focus on What it Does Well. In the essay, Herieth discusses creating the right conditions for young Africans to flourish as confident leaders.

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Quest student Alicia Saunders is asking visitors to Alice Lake Provincial Park to be on alert for the Western toad, which is native to the Sea to Sky Corridor. Saunders’ Keystone is on the migration of the toads, and plans to become a biologist with a focus on wetlands. She hopes her work will help protect the important species.

Read more via Jennifer Thuncher / Squamish Chief

LEAP Mountain Biker Jacob Tooke

Featured in his hometown newspaper, Vernon Morning star, mountain biker Jacob Tooke will join the LEAP Program this fall as he attends Quest. Jacob finished fourth nationally in 2016 to earn a spot on the Canadian Junior National Enduro Team.

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(Sam Egan Photo Vernon mountain biker Jacob Tooke is preparing for three upcoming Enduro World Series Events.)

What determines the success of a conservation protected area? Current student Elijah Rempe Cetas examined this question through a Quest Summer Fellowship with Social Sciences tutor Dr. Maï Yasué. In a literature review, they found that projects with at least one intrinsically motivating component were three times more likely to meet the socioeconomic or ecological goals of the protected areas. Their co-authored paper earned Elijah Conservation Biology’s 2016 Rising Star Award, which recognizes outstanding student researchers and communicators. “This really is a testament to what a student can produce through the very close working relationship/mentoring that Quest students receive from faculty,” said Maï.

The paper, “A Systematic Review of Motivational Values and Conservation Success in and around Protected Areas,” was published in the journal Conservation Biology.

After the announcement, current student Parker Carruthers had an opportunity to chat with Elijah.

Parker Carruthers: Starting off, tell us about your background, where did you go to high school, what are your research interests broadly?

Elijah Cetas: I was born in Tucson Arizona, but grew up in Portland, Oregon. I went to public school at Cleveland High School. I’ve always been interested in local politics. I grew up in a very progressive family where my mom always took me to protests. In high school I got really interested in the contract negotiation that was going on with the teachers’ union of the public school at the time. I got interested in how people could work autonomously as teachers vs. a public-school system that was trying to enforce tests and things like that. And that was something that I thought about with the research too.

PC: So building on that, could you expand more on your prior engagement with educational activism?

EC: After Occupy came to Portland, there was a big movement in Portland. In my junior year I joined the student union that had just formed. It was a group of students who were activists and were interested in doing student politics by going to demonstrations, and holding our own demonstrations against standardized testing in particular—just trying to represent the student voice.

My senior year was when this contract negotiation came around. And that year the teachers presented a contract to the board that basically said, “these are the schools Portland students deserve”—that was like their catchphrase. They were really interested in trying to negotiate things like the amount of tests students had to take in Portland public schools, the way teachers’ hours are structured, and the way in which teachers had the ability to design their own curriculum.

So we as a student union saw in that message something really exciting, which was that school isn’t about testing and it’s not about a pre-designed curriculum, it’s about student and teacher autonomy. We got behind the teachers and helped in the contract negotiation. In the course of that year we demonstrated and held walk outs, which we had done in the last year as well. We created forms for opting out of standardized testing, and we went to the school board and testified against the school board management.

PC: And that was in your junior year—what ended up coming out of that?

EC: That was in my junior through senior years. The final contract was much better than the proposed contract by the management. We didn’t win everything we wanted, but it went really really well. And for a while after that there was a strong group of students who had become interested in politics and had become active. It was just kind of a fire-y little movement for a while, so that was cool to see.

PC: So switching from that, how did that bring you to Quest? Or what brought you to Quest, rather?

EC: I came to Quest because I wanted to go to a small liberal arts school; a place where students could figure out their own course and work closely with mentor figures. I always wanted to do the humanities, but I wanted to be in a place where we could be intentional with our own education and what kind of community we want to be a part of.

PC: Felt like a good fit?

EC: I came up and did an interview, and I remember telling the admissions officer at the time about my experience in high school, and she said, “Quest is the kind of school where people can think about some of the things that you’re thinking about.”

PC: So talking about educational activism, and your research interests now, what can you say about your paper, “A systematic review of motivational values and conservation success in and around protected areas,” that won Conservation Biology’s 2016 Rising Star award? Maybe breaking that up, tell us about your paper first.

EC: So I got interested in this paper when [Social Sciences Faculty Tutor Dr.] Maï [Yasué] proposed the idea to a number of students. I knew that I didn’t want to study conservation per-say as a major focus at Quest, but I was really interested in this research proposal. The study that Maï and I did was a systematic review, a literature review essentially, but one where you use the articles as data points. You code them and use them to see what those codes say, essentially.

And what she wanted to look at was intrinsic motivation versus extrinsic motivation. We hadn’t figured out how to look at conservation in greater detail than, but what I saw in that research proposal, and what interested Maï, was this question of “to what degree does autonomy, and to what degree does self-determination matter when it comes to the success of a conservation area?” And in my head the same question was “to what does it matter when it comes to the success of education and public high school education?” Because it’s essentially the same problem, where if you have a conservation issue, and you can figure out a really good incentive scheme to get people to conserve, and can enact it in every place, then it seems like you can just run this program, and the conservation area will be successful.

But there’s this question of “to what degree should you have local participation? To what degree does that matter for preserving ecosystems?” In the same way that in what way does it matter that teachers have autonomy over their curriculum?

PC: So it’s much broader.

EC: I was drawn to that question, and I think just trying to see, to kind of put to the test, some of the things that I believed almost dogmatically in high school were true. Like, “yes, teachers should have self-determination.” “Yes, local people should determine their relationship to a national park.” But we didn’t know that in data, and literature was conflicting, and that was what was really exciting about the whole thing. And I think just trying to answer questions that are something that you believe to be true but yet are vague and don’t appear in data very easily. I think those are really interesting to try to put into data.

PC: And obviously it was successful. You did this in the summer, so that was as a Summer Fellow. Could you maybe talk a little bit more about your experience as a 2015 Summer Fellow and what that meant to you as a student?

EC: I had just finished my first year, and I was pretty exhausted. We had a two-week break, and then came back in the beginning of the summer for the Summer Fellows Program. I started a little bit early. We had a conference that we wanted to go to in June, and I worked really hard that first month and got a lot done. We got a lot of our data, made a poster for the conference, and went to the conference. That was kind of a turning point for summer because from then on it was about finishing the data and writing the thing.

It was interesting because at Quest we don’t get to work on things for any length of time. It was strange to sit with one research problem for weeks and weeks, but I think it was really meaningful. It was challenging too to stay on top of your work and your research when it’s just so big that you’re trying to do a little bit every day.

PC: Where do you start to chip away?

EC: Exactly, but that was really meaningful as a first year to try to figure that out. It was also wonderful being around other students doing research projects. That was inspiring because most of them were doing Keystone work (there were a few other first years) and they were really excited about it and passionate, and we would have great conversations just talking about it. It was great.

PC: And that has to be valuable as a first year too, talking to those experienced students and getting that insight over the summer.

EC: It was huge. I could learn from them, and listen and hear about what they were researching and about their process. By the end of the summer, hearing other people present, you realize, “these people have done a ton.” And then you’re like, “I’ve done a ton.”

PC: What class are you in currently? We just finished a block, what are you moving into for the last block of the year?

EC: I’m in “What is Life?” I’m just finishing my Foundation courses. I took six Foundation courses this year, I believe, because last year I took two. And the rest, Concentration courses. “What is Life?” I took “Bio BC” last block, and that was interesting in relation to this project—to the Summer Fellows, because I spent so much of that summer reading about people talking about ecology, and interpreting the way people talked about ecology, but not having actually having done any ecology myself.

Studying ecology was interesting, I’d never thought about it really.

PC: And future courses? What is next year looking like as far as coursework goes?

EC: Next year I’ll be taking all Concentration courses. I want to take “Creative Writing” in fall block. I wanted to take “Ancient Philosophy,” but it doesn’t seem to be on the course slate. I want to take “Colonialism and Colonial Identities” with André [Lambelet, Humanities Tutor (History)]. For fourth block, I don’t remember the last one.

PC: You don’t need to have your whole schedule memorized. That’s perfect.

EC: I think broadly I want to take exciting, fun, classes. “Creative Writing” I’m really excited for in particular.

PC: And just stepping back, what’s your Question?

EC: My Question is “How do we Know Ourselves?” but lately in my head it’s become “What is the Meaning of Progress?”

I made it “How do we Know Ourselves” because I had no idea what I wanted to study in the humanities except that I wanted to look at literature, history, and philosophy all kind of bundled together. So I asked, “How do we Know Ourselves?” and now I’m interested in the 19th century, and thinking about what makes the modern identity, and what is the modern sense of self, and where does it come from? I think one of the big ideas of modernity is the idea of continual progress, and I’m interested in literature that’s relating to that.

PC: Just to wrap it up here, tell us something about yourself that we not know.

EC: Oh, I really love comic books.

PC: What sorts?

EC: I love Neil Gaiman, and I love Hellboy comic books a lot.

The Squamish Chief published an article on Elijah’s accomplishment.


Elijah Rempe Cetas: 2016 Rising Star

Third-year Quest student Elijah Rempe Cetas has been honoured for his conservation research. Elijah was a Quest Summer Fellow at the end of his first year during which time he researched and wrote the proposal. The manuscript was written in collaboration with Quest Social Sciences Faculty Tutor Maï Yasué.

Elijah received the 2016 Rising Star Award from the science journal Conservation Biology for a manuscript titled,A Systematic Review of Motivational Values and Conservation Success in and around Protected Areas.” Congratulations to Elijah and Maï  on their contribution to Conservation Biology, one of the highest impact factor conservation journals.

“This really is a testament to what a student can produce through the very close working relationship/mentoring that Quest students receive from faculty,” said Maï, who served as faculty host for Elijah’s fellowship.

Read More…

Photo: Quest University student Elijah Rempe Cetas / Squamish Chief