Kalolin Sullivan is proud to be the first Indigenous student to graduate from Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture (Dal AC) with a diploma in civil engineering.
“I value coming from an Indigenous community,” Sullivan, who grew up in Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation outside of Antigonish, said. “There is little representation within the field of engineering and I am extremely proud to be the first Indigenous student to graduate from Dal AC’s engineering diploma program.”
Reflecting on her academic journey, Sullivan knows she chose the right path. Despite some hesitancy in the beginning, the May 2019 graduate of the two-year program is certain her career choice was meant to be.
“I was not always interested in engineering. My interests dabbled all over the place. I considered fashion design, architecture, psychology and other programs. People tell you to do what you enjoy and after thinking about what it was I enjoyed, I figured out that I had a passion for building and creating things.”
Sullivan was previously enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts program at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Although her intentions were to pursue architecture, she felt something wasn’t quite right. Upon further reflection, she switched to study civil engineering at Dal AC.
“Once I decided engineering was the path for me, there was nothing that was going to stop me from reaching my goal,” Sullivan said.
Civil engineering is the professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment. This includes public works such as roads, bridges, canals, dams, airports, structural components of buildings, and much more. After completion of the diploma program at Dal AC, engineering students have the option to complete an additional three years of studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax to earn a Bachelor of Engineering degree.
“Civil engineering enables creativity and mathematics to come together in the creation process. My plan is to direct my studies towards structural engineering,” she said.
In addition to her engineering studies, Sullivan is the co-president of the Engineering Society at Dal AC. As co-president, she helps organize meetings and events for members of the society. They host regular meetings, attend conferences hosted by other schools which are often organized by the Canadian Federation Engineering Society, co-ordinate society clothing orders, and host society events.
“We put in a lot of effort to create a better dynamic and an improved transition for next year’s society.”
Next year, Sullivan will attend Dalhousie University in Halifax where she will complete her Bachelor of Engineering degree. The three-year program offers students the chance to gain real-life work experience through a co-op program. Sullivan is excited to gain hands-on work experience in her in field and plans to continue to be involved on campus.
“I want to run for a position on the undergraduate engineering society at the Sexton Campus,” Kalolin says. “I want to continue to take on leadership roles and be a beneficial member of the society.”
As Sullivan looks to her next chapter at Dalhousie, she admits she senses a feeling of completion.
“I did not expect to enjoy the Dal AC campus as much as I have,” she said. “My engineering class is like my second family and I cannot wait to gain new experiences at the Sexton Campus. As exhausting as studying engineering is, I have never felt like I have belonged anywhere else more in my life. I felt so motivated and driven to get there and now that I am here, I know this is where I was meant to be.”