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I have always looked to connect with people. I believe all anyone wants is to feel understood so, I seek to understand and naturally gravitated towards psychology and philosophy. Through this, I realized the importance of living intentionally and frequently contemplate about how I can add value to the world. While I think globally, I act locally, doing my best to contribute to my community and reduce my carbon footprint. Beyond school, I spend my days being active and out in nature, shooting on film, thrifting, or picking up new hobbies. 

What is your personal definition of sustainability? 

To me, sustainability is about choices. It is choosing how we will meet our needs but also the needs of our neighbors, communities, and planet without compromising the ability for future generations to meet theirs. This requires choices that balance environmental, social, and economic needs and we can start by contemplating what you do, what you buy, who you buy from, or not buying anything at all. Our decisions have complex implications far beyond what we can see. Consequently, it is important to think critically about the decisions we make today because they can transcend generations into our future.  

What role do you see sustainability playing in your professional career?  

Though I am unsure what I want to do after Ivey, I know my dedication to sustainability will drive my career choices. I plan to work for a company with a purpose, who understands their responsibility to all stakeholders (not just shareholders) and the communities in which they operate.  

In the short-term, I plan to maximize my exposure to learning opportunities and perspectives in the sustainability/social impact field to further understand the ramifications of our actions. Using this knowledge, I hope to eventually scale sustainable practices at a larger corporation, particularly innovations that scale the circular economy. I want to demonstrate to shareholders that “doing well” is not mutually exclusive with “doing good” and that there is profitability in sustainability. I anticipate that actualizing these innovations will shift shareholders’ values and unlock businesses’ potentials to create social impact.  

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in? 

In high school, I was a part of a Junior Achievement company called Tee-Clo. We strived to tackle the textile industry by upcycling excess, unused fabrics to transform them into pillows to reduce their environmental impacts. Through our company’s success, I had the opportunity to connect with Canadian business leaders and eventually connected us with Ryerson Fashion and Fabrication Zones, 6S Marketing, and UNISYNC. I helped Tee-Clo continue business by providing viable options for production. In the end, Tee-Clo was recognized as the best company to display a return on investment through extraordinary social responsibility to benefit the community and won the coveted Return on Investment Company Award. 

Currently, I am the VP of Communications for Western’s food bank, Food Support Services. We are a volunteer-run service that is dedicated to reducing food insecurity among students where I strive to increase awareness of our services to reach the people who need our services most. To supplement our food bank, we also offer a confidential food hamper service, removing additional barriers to access and supplying students with days’ worth of food.  


Valeria Widjaja

Valeria  Widjaja