UA Blog

Where They Are They Now Wednesdays: Melissa Hughes

Melissa Hughes from Western University was Highly Commended in the Social Sciences category in 2015 for her paper, “The Westray Mine Incident: Corporate Violence and Governmental Crime as the Roots of Disaster.”

Since graduating from Western University in June 2015, she has moved to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, to pursue a Master of Science in Environmental Sustainability, and she is currently also working for the Federal Government at Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) as a Junior Environmental Assistant. As one of the largest Government of Canada departments, PSPC is one of the Government's primary common service providers; accordingly, she works within National Portfolio and Asset Management in order to ensure there are effective environmental components embedded in real property investment decision-making and, more generally, in the services they provide to their numerous client departments.

In addition, she is working on her Master’s thesis, which will explore whether intergovernmental conflicts are an explanatory factor for the persistence of unsafe drinking water on Indigenous reserves in the province of Ontario - although her research orientation is constantly evolving. She has always been deeply intrigued and simultaneously troubled by the notion that environmental issues will disproportionately affect vulnerable communities, and she believes that policymakers have both the power and the duty to revert this trend.

When Melissa graduated from Western, she knew the right thing to do was to take a step back from academia and to give herself the time to be a 22-year-old and to let her heart guide her in the next direction. She began working at a microbrewery in her hometown of London (Ontario) pursuing two of her well-known passions: craft beer and local watering holes.

"After attending the Undergraduate Awards that November, I returned home with an overwhelming source of inspiration and desire to try to change the world for the better, and to pursue my (slightly more productive) passion, which is environmental policy. I attribute much of this renewed inspiration to the many wonderful, involved, intelligent, and determined individuals I had the pleasure of meeting during that special week in Dublin, and I will forever be grateful that I have been able to immerse myself in this community of bright scholars, still maintaining some of those friendships years after (#CraicSquad for life)."

When Melissa is not at work or nestled away researching in some book somewhere, you’ll find her roaming around the nation’s beautiful capital city (usually looking for dogs to pet), or experimenting with recipes in her tiny apartment kitchen. She also plays volleyball every now and again with some good friends or you can find her with her number one girl, Marley the Goldendoodle.

Read Melissa's Highly Commended Paper on The Undergraduate Awards Library.