We are grateful for Dr. Yvette Lu ’96, one our Healthcare Heroes, for creating this video for us. We have shared this video with our Junior School and Senior School staff and students. We invite you to watch at home as well!
We are grateful for Dr. Yvette Lu ’96, one our Healthcare Heroes, for creating this video for us. We have shared this video with our Junior School and Senior School staff and students. We invite you to watch at home as well!
Our mission at York House is to inspire and enable students’ connection to the world. To help young women thrive now and into the future, we want to expose them to a world of possibilities. To do this, we strive to bring the world to the school and the students to the world in meaningful, relevant, and lively ways. The Career-Life Connections Program (CLC) at YHS is one hub for exploration and experimentation where young women can explore future pathways.
Thank you to Ita Kane-Wilson, Alumnae Relations and Annual Giving Manager, and Jaclyn Murray, the YHS Career-Life Connections and Capstone Coordinator, for coordinating the school’s first Virtual Career Fair for Grade 10 students. Thank you, also, to parents, alumnae, and community members who generously gave of their time, shared their own experiences, and brought careers to life for York House students.
Director of Learning
On Friday, February 5, as a part of the Grade 10 Career-Life Connections Program and in collaboration with the Alumnae Office, YHS hosted its first virtual Career Fair. The purpose and focus of this event was to give students first-hand knowledge and information about careers in six different industries. These included: Business & Entrepreneurship, Fashion & Interior Design, and Medical & Health Sciences, Engineering & Technology, Film & TV, Law & the Music Industry. Students heard from alumnae and parents who are working in these fields and generously offered to explore with students a day in the life of their career.
The Career Fair took place during students’ Career-Life Connections 10 class where students participated in two 30-minute sessions and heard about two different industries of interest. Each online session had two guest speakers who presented to help provide either a complementary or contrasting perspective in a particular field/industry, with an opportunity at the end for students to ask questions.
Thank you to the following YHS Alumnae and Parents for making this event possible. Click on the links for bios:
Students were excited from the outset to hear first-hand from leaders and change-makers in our community. There was a buzz in the hallways in response to the engaging and informative sessions. Our hope is that students felt energized and inspired and took away insights that may inform their decision-making of next steps and future possibilities.
Career-Life Connections & Capstone Coordinator
Starting a small business in the middle of a pandemic can be a daunting prospect but for three Yorkies Joyce Chen, Phoenix Lai, and Lisa Mo from the Class of 2014, it has been the silver lining in an otherwise challenging year.
2.What were your next steps for all of you after graduating in 2014?
Lisa: After graduating from YHS in 2014, I studied Business Administration at the University of Southern California. Throughout college, I was heavily involved in a student-run Marketing agency on campus, which worked with small businesses. This inspired me to dream of having my own business one day.
Joyce: Similar to Lisa, I also studied Business Administration at Boston University. I concentrated in Accounting, but was heavily involved with the School of Hospitality since I was interested in the service industry, specifically in Food and Beverage. I loved the feeling of seeing people happy, whether it was from excellent food or service.
Phoenix: Graduating alongside Lisa in 2014, I studied Industrial Design at Pratt Institute and continued to work in New York for a few years in the design field. I have always had a passion for food, thought about attending culinary school at some point, and wanted to start something I could be personally invested in, so Moon Milk Creamery became the manifestation of those aspirations—and with the right people, the stars aligned!
Interestingly enough, the three of us are not vegans, but we believe that everyone (and the environment) can benefit from a plant-based diet. Little steps such as changing what you snack on or what ice cream you indulge in could help both your body and lessen your carbon footprint. There are some great options in the market for vegan ice cream in Vancouver, however, we hope to bring more exciting flavours to the table so that non-vegans can enjoy plant-based ice cream as well. It’s been really motivating for us when we see people try our product and are surprised to hear that it is vegan and completely dairy-free!
We bring different but equally important perspectives to the drawing board to make what started as a passion project into a viable business.
Joyce: Creating a sustainable product that lowers a consumer’s carbon footprint is important to me and stems from some of the best memories made at YHS. I want generations after me to experience what I could during these outdoor education camps.
Starting from 4th Grade, I remember participating in the annual outdoor education camps. It’s truly such a unique program that taught me to appreciate the world we live in and the natural beauty that it holds. I still recall the initial feeling of awe and peace wash over me when I sat on a cliffside journaling away during morning meditation, and the feeling still lingers within me when I see the colourful fall leaves and snow-capped mountains in the background.
As clichéd as it sounds, there’s really no place like Vancouver. It is such a unique and wonderful place that encourages me to play my role, in whatever small ways I can, to preserve the land so that others after me can also experience similar gratitude and admiration. This is why it’s important to me to create a plant-based product that is kind to the earth, so we can sustain the beauty for future generations to come!
Phoenix: It’s hard to pinpoint specific moments, but York House definitely created an environment where I cultivated some very special relationships, memories, and life lessons that still guide me to this day. Looking back at it now, our school experience was very unique compared to most, which can allow us to see the world in different ways. To believe in things larger than just ourselves, but to still believe in ourselves as strong women in this world, and a willingness to explore worlds outside our own. These values from years at York House have shaped my outlook on life, and in terms of Moon Milk Creamery, pushed me to design for the future.
In the near future, we hope to work with local plant-based cafes, grocery stores, and restaurants so more people can try our product! A big milestone for us would be to get on the shelves of Whole Foods across Canada.
Alumnae from 1948 to 2021, honorary alumnae, past and present staff and special guests attended our first-ever virtual Alumnae Day on Saturday, October 3, and what an amazing day it was! Like the year 2020, it was quite unlike any that had gone before. As an alumnae class rep shared, “I am just so impressed with the whole experience of the virtual Alumnae Day. It’s yet another example of something good resulting from COVID-19!”
Head of School, Julie Rousseau, and Alumnae Association President, Courtney (Smith) Cousineau ’99, hosted the event live from the recently launched YHS STEAM Lab in our Senior School. The lab, thanks to the generosity of our community, is already becoming a vibrant hub of activity where students can explore and draw on the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).
The day began with a virtual tour of the YHS Museum & Archives and the sharing of reunion photo albums for classes celebrating 2020-21 reunions. Video greetings were shared by Yorkies in cities around the world including Vancouver, South Island, New Zealand, Shanghai, Dublin, Washington, and Ottawa, as well as Hong Kong, London, New York, Groningen and LA.
After welcome remarks from Julie, Courtney, and YHS Board Chair, Michelle Ostrow ’89, alums got the first glimpse of student reactions to the new STEAM Lab.
“I could never have imagined the STEAM Lab in my York House days. What a future the school is providing for the students of today,” commented an alumna from the 1960s.
Manpreet Deol ’15, before embarking on her journey as a Rhodes Scholars at the University of Oxford, came to visit the new lab to share her thoughts on this new powerful space for student exploration. When Manpreet initially heard that Dr. Roberta Bondar, Canada’s first female astronaut and neurologist in space would be our Alumnae Day keynote, she exclaimed, “That is beyond amazing, I still remember my Grade 5 hero project, I chose to write and speak about her…This is absolutely incredible! York House comes full circle for me.”
Children’s author Geraldine Santiago ’83, was honoured to introduce Alumnae Day keynote speaker, Dr. Roberta Bondar. Geraldine wrote a children’s book, Luisa and the Magic Star, featuring Dr. Bondar, to mark the occasion of Canada 150 and space exploration.
In celebration of the new YHS STEAM Lab and the theme of exploration, Dr. Roberta Bondar talked about some of her extraordinary experiences from her childhood explorations through to becoming a scientist, neurologist, astronaut, and photographer. She shared that the best part of her exploration on Space Shuttle Discovery in 1992 was looking out the windows and being able to look down at the countries below without visible borders, and to see the earth as a planet from a totally different perspective. When she returned, she wanted to convey this new perspective, using her background in science, arts, and technology to connect people back to the natural habitat and the Roberta Bondar Foundation.
One of the research projects she is most deeply involved in is AMASS (Avian Migration Aerial Surface Space), which is inspired by the natural phenomena of avian migration coupled with Dr. Bondar’s lifelong passion for flight and her view of Earth. The project’s aim is to increase awareness, educate and contribute to the world’s knowledge of biodiversity, its challenges, and needs for continuous support.
Her insightful and enlightening thoughts resonated with alumnae and were greatly appreciated by all decades. “WHAT AN INSPIRATION!!! Commented an alumna from the class of 1982. “Dr. Bondar’s key takeaway today was that we can always continue to grow and explore with our minds no matter how old we are. Growth is a mindset and we need to continue to keep growing. Gratitude for her wise words and encouragement.”
Alumnae Association President, Courtney (Smith) Cousineau ‘99 introduced this year’s Alumnae Special Achiever, Saara Bhanji ’03, the founder of AWARE: The Association of Women’s Action, Research, and Empowerment. This feminist organization works with young women to overcome barriers based on race, class, poverty, ethnic background, sexual orientation, and gender identity. In her video presentation, Saara explores issues close to her heart.
An annual highlight of Alumnae Day is the Association’s alumnae and staff basketball game. To help us look forward to next year’s game, the association created a virtual basketball game.
“I can’t wipe the grin off my face. So much fun to watch the virtual basketball game! exclaimed an alumna,” And to sing Onward and Upward, just like I did 55 years ago!”
We were delighted to have such a great turnout and to have received such positive feedback for our first virtual Alumnae Day. We look forward to welcoming everyone back again next year, hopefully in person!
Embracing the unknown: Finding the courage to follow a new path
Miranda Chen graduated from York House in 2018 and after 18 months of studying at Mercyhurst University, a summer internship inspired her to change universities and career paths. Change is inevitable but making those decisions takes courage and resilience. Miranda has both in spades.
After graduation from York House, what did you do?
After graduating from York House, I headed to Erie, Pennsylvania, to attend the Intelligence program at Mercyhurst. My experience at Mercyhurst was incredibly eye-opening and unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I think, sometimes, at York House, we exist in sort of a utopian bubble where most students are of the same socioeconomic background and political beliefs, so it can be easy to forget not everybody comes from the same experience.
For me, it was incredibly interesting and refreshing to attend a university that was mostly conservative and completely different from what I had grown up with in Vancouver. Especially today, with the extreme political polarization in society, I think it can be quite easy only to make friends and consume media that share and reinforce existing beliefs and opinions, so I feel very fortunate that I have been able to experience both sides of the coin; I can also now say I view the world much differently than I did before.
In terms of academics, it was definitely challenging. Still, York House prepared me very well, and I couldn’t have had a better education in terms of developing leadership and interpersonal skills and establishing the ability to articulate myself clearly through public speaking and writing. All in all, my experience at Mercyhurst was quite intense and challenging at times, but it truly made me grow as a person, and I will always be grateful for that. I also made some incredible friends who I know I’ll stay in contact with for the rest of my life!
Why did you change direction? What was the catalyst?
I had the great privilege of interning at the Embassy of Canada to the United States in Washington, D.C., last summer after my freshman year. I worked in the Trade Division, specifically focusing on trade policy between the United States and China. As part of my internship, I was able to attend and report on Congressional hearings and think tank events on Capitol Hill and around the D.C. area, as well as produce reports and briefing memos for senior-level staff at the Embassy.
In addition, we were able to hear from many high-ranking officials, including Marvin Hildebrand, the Economic Minister who oversees trade; David MacNaughton, Canada’s last ambassador to the United States; and Kirsten Hillman, the current ambassador. As I was one of the youngest in my intern cohort, it was also wonderful to connect with some of my older peers and hear their experiences and advice for university.
During my time there, some especially exciting moments included working on the USMCA agreement and meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when he visited the Embassy in June 2019. I also became quite close with some of the other interns, and we still talk today! It was truly an incredible experience but also one that informed me that this was not what I saw myself doing in the near future.
What are your future plans?
I am currently studying finance and real estate at New York University, and I hope to pursue a future career in real estate investment banking and eventually in real estate development.
On Being a USC Student and Running a New Business
A graduate from 2018, Ysabella Delgado embarked on a very different type of university experience when she enrolled in the Iovine and Young Academy Bachelor of Science in Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation degree program at the University of Southern California (USC). This four-year study program provides students with in-depth learning in the arts, design, engineering, computer science, business and venture management. Bella’s enthusiasm and passion for her studies shines through as we connect over Zoom about her university experience and how the past few years have evolved.
“I am part of a really weird program,” she says. “It has definitely been a very not-expected university experience. The way my school works is there are 26 of us and we go to all our classes together. In first year, we had classes in Disruptive Innovation, Digital Toolbox in illustration, audio production, Photoshop; a lot of different courses. I also had to take seminars as part of USC general education classes and one in particular was on vampires and monsters in Art and Fiction. That was a very cool experience”.
When Bella left York House, little did she think she’d be going from a small school to a smaller school. She says her Disruptive Innovation class was taught by a professor who basically detailed why businesses have failed throughout history and also analyzed how businesses succeed. At the end of the class, they were put in a group and given $200 to create a business/product. As Bella recalls, “Our little group had to come up with a business, sell it on campus, and try to make as much as we could. In the end, we created custom-fit filters for the USC dorms to help with dust and other pollutants. In my program, it’s not one person who does everything. There will always be someone in your group who can do something you can’t do.”
The importance of being bored
Summer after freshman year was over, Bella and her boyfriend Quinn drove up to Vancouver and stayed for part of the summer. When Quinn went back down to LA to be with his family, Bella says she got really bored and was sitting around doing nothing. She decided it was time to get creative again. She took a trip to Michael’s and decided she’d make earrings to go with her makeup looks and then did some shoots with her earrings on. Quinn is a coder and when he saw the earrings, he was really encouraging. He suggested they start a website to sell her creations and he offered to code it. Kikay was born!
She recounts, “I started posting images on Instagram stories and a girl I had met at an event saw me on Instagram. She contacted me and said that she ran these backyard indie rock concerts and her earring vendor had dropped out. The show would be in San Diego in two weeks and she asked me if I might possibly want to sell the earrings I was making. I made some more earrings, packed up our car and got ourselves to San Diego. In the meantime, Quinn had the website up and running. We sold out at that first show. After that, we did another show and that also sold out too. I stress-made another 100 pairs of earrings and spent the rest of the summer making and vending earrings in the California area”.
Bella noticed that when they started, a lot of other earring brands were charging $50-60 for earrings, and she says she was sitting there thinking to herself, “I have some acrylic, I have earring parts, and I have my own time; that’s a really big mark up. When we were selling at these shows, a lot of people were my age or younger. People got very excited when they came to our booth and discovered that our earrings were so cheap. People’s faces lit up when they realized they could afford them.”
Instagram influencers can be anyone
Kikay is a two-person operation and her and Quinn run the company together. For the business, Bella focuses on the earring design, production, outreach, and Instagram marketing, while Quinn does the laser cutting, the coding, the customer service and accounting. When Bella did her research, she realized she wanted to create a brand modelled after the makeup industry, tap into that industry, but not sell makeup. Rather, she wanted to create something to accompany makeup looks. They started marketing using this model and built a following.
“Earrings and makeup on a profile photo work really well as they go perfectly together,” she says. “We spoke with makeup artists and created a community around ourselves which we are super thankful for. We’ve been working a lot with influencers so much so that we don’t create any of our own content anymore. It’s created by other artists. Initially we would create these looks and encourage people to post them and do their own makeup looks. Being in quarantine, people are really exploring fun makeup and fun fashion. In the past you’d only see looks by influencers but now people have started to realize that they can be influencers too. We wanted to create something that people can feel super comfortable in; a gateway statement into doing fun big things with your looks and making it accessible to everyone, not just influencers. We are really young and engage people.”
Kikay and growing social activism
Bella has always wanted to have a social activism aspect to their business. As they have grown bigger, it has taken Bella a while to get her head around the fact they are actually a fully fledged business and have established a growing community of people they can outreach to.
Bella reflects, “We have this chance to make a change and difference in the world. I wanted to work towards hiring as production gets bigger and I thought about what kind of community would benefit. One idea we had was hiring retired Filipino childcare workers. I grew up around this community. They come here with not very much education and after they finish up working for a family and they retire, they don’t have many options open to them. This was going to be our first social activism project but then everything took off with the US protests and we veered quickly in another direction”.
In the first week of June, when commentary regarding the Black Lives Matter movement exploded on Instagram they decided to use their platform to post, repost, and create opportunities to make a change. Kikay made a decision to donate 100% of their profits to the Black Owned Business Relief Fund for that week.
“Our business supports the black community and we will be here for them and that was the decision making behind that,” says Bella. “We had no idea how it would go but it was one of our best selling weeks. We had a lot of messages of support. USC is in a predominantly black neighbourhood. It was a culture shock coming out of Vancouver when I moved there and I realized I had to step up my game and get on top of educating myself. I needed to be educated on black history and culture.”
Bella credits her social activism to her high school days. She adds, “I do think that a huge part of my social activism came from monthly civvies days at York House. For us, you wore your civvies and donated money and that happened every month. It made you think about who you were giving to and why you were giving back. We are going to continue doing social activism projects. It’s Pride Month and we will dedicate a week where all proceeds go to LGBTQ+ Youth and continue with that one model every month.”
The “new normal” in the fall
In the fall, Bella is excited to return to LA. “I’m very lucky that our school is not online. USC put out a statement that there’d be a mixed curriculum depending on which school you attended. My school got special permission to run. As we only have 26 per class, we got permission to do it in person.”
With focus also on their growing business, Quinn and Bella are converting a bedroom in their house and setting up a whole new workshop for Kikay down there.
A life-changing moment last year for Bella was also getting diagnosed with ADHD. “Two-hour lectures made me really anxious and I couldn’t focus for that long. Earrings have been a big part of my strategy in coping and managing ADHD as I realized I had to be doing something while I was in class. Each class, I bring a kit of earrings to make as I listen to the lectures. It’s really helpful. I can absorb information while doing something else that is productive. My professors allow me to do it and it has completely changed my life. It’s been transformative.”
When Bella reflects on the past year, she says starting Kikay has given her a lot of confidence. “I think if I want to go out there and do something, I have the chance, ability, and foundation to step up and try to do it. I did have some doubts and in the early days I wanted to quit, but Quinn kept me going. We definitely help each other out. Looking ahead, we want to be able to set up a system and work in an environmentally responsible way, a financially responsible way and a socially responsible way.”
(Kikay has since announced a new microgrant project for LGBTQ+ artists and creatives for Pride Month. See below).
The annual trek out east to our alumnae in Ontario took place this year in early February. Along with Kimberley Harvey, University and Academic Counsellor, we spent the week taking our grads out for dinner and checking in with them about their university experience.
The Ottawa gathering was held at Chez Lucien and connections were made between alumnae. Gillian Cartwright ‘03 and the Ottawa Chapter Chair welcomed everyone and shared photos of her little boy, Ben. In Toronto, 20 alumnae gathered in the Queen and Beaver pub for dinner and it was a lively evening full of chat about working life in the city, university courses, and opportunities.
The following afternoon, an impromptu happy hour had us meet at a wine bar in Yorkville and some of our alums who couldn’t make it to the dinner, popped by for a catch-up. Providing the space to meet during the day was important as a lot of our alumnae have classes in the evening. It was an enlightening and entertaining happy hour with our recent grads who talked about the ‘York House Effect’! This phenomenon relates to the known fact that Yorkies tend to be a lot more vocal when it comes to speaking up in class and giving their opinions!
Later on in the week, we travelled to Kingston and London to meet our grads for dinner. The feedback from our alumnae and parents tell us that grads feel connected, supported, and continue to feel part of York House. We shared information on mentoring opportunities through YHS and invited grads to stay engaged through alumnae events. One of the most valuable outcomes from these gatherings are the connections that are made with each other and emails were exchanged with regard to networking and career opportunities.
We usually think of alumnae as being connected to the school’s past. It is true we are the holders of history and tradition. However, alumnae are also very much part of the school’s present and we have an important role in building a community for its future.
This year’s Alumnae Day culminated in an inaugural staff, students, and alumnae basketball match. Players from all generations of Yorkies answered a call for them to be in the gym.
There were two teams, each captained by alumnae, Lisa ‘05 and Jess ‘10. They were leaders in their time at the school and both stepped up early to say they would participate. Other players included alums from a range of graduating years between 1991 to 2017. There were also current teachers and parents, some of whom are alums, as well as current Tigers players in Grades 9, 10, 11, and 12.
Even though it was billed as a fun, exhibition game, it was also as intense and competitive as any Tigers game.
In a display of true Yorkie spirit, at halftime, Head of School Julie Rousseau rallied players and spectators together for a shooting competition and skills demo.
It was so great to see families of alumnae, including parents who gave much of their time and care to the school in a variety of positions in years past, come to watch.
Derek Francis, husband of the late Joanne Francis, a former Phys Ed teacher who was at the school between 1979-2001, delighted in seeing some of the up and coming Yorkie players. Gail Ruddy, former Head of School, cheered as loudly as ever.
The coming together of this event really highlighted how YHS admin, staff, teachers and coaches–especially those who are considered honorary alumnae for their long years of service to the school—stay in touch with and cheer on our alumnae.
Commenting on the game, Amanda de Faye, Class of 2010 said: “It was so much fun to see everyone, meet the girls who are current students and to play in the gym that was a second home to so many of us. Thank you as well for grouping players from the same year. Playing with Jess ‘10 again was magic. I already can’t wait for next year!”.
Thank you from the Alumnae Association to everyone who was part of this. Plans are already afoot for next year’s Alumnae Day basketball game. We’d love to see you there!
This year’s Alumnae Day was a jam-packed event that engaged our alumnae in meaningful discussions, gave classmates time to reconnect, and even asked them to step out of their comfort zones and try something completely out of the ordinary.
Our day started with both a mindfulness session with school counsellor Ly Hoang and recent grad Leah John, Class of 2018, as well as a yoga class with current parent Dr. Genieve Burley. Afterwards, alumnae gathered in the Gail Ruddy Foyer for gourmet coffee hosted by Caffee Umbria owned by parent Peter Lee and his barista assistant, Joyce.
A lively discussion on “Breaking the Mold” followed with Class of 1983 Special Achiever Kirsten Sutton (Koopman-Osterreicher), Salima Remtulla ‘00, and past parent and SFU Chancellor Anne Giardini. Moderated by Head of School, Julie Rousseau, the panellists brought humour, insight, and real-life scenarios to the table and it was both refreshing and inspiring.
After lunch, one group attended a STEAM workshop hosted by Junior School teacher, Jen Sharpe, while another group participated in the improv workshop hosted by two grads of 2018, Anna Everett and Andrea McMinigal. Everyone else went on a tour of the school led by Laura Edwards ‘74.
The basketball game in the gym brought our alumnae back together for the afternoon and what an exciting and intense game it was. Teachers, past teachers, alumnae, honorary alumni, parents and past parents all joined together to cheer on the players and the enthusiasm was palpable.
The day ended on an artistic note with the opening of this year’s alumnae art exhibit on the 3rd floor of the Senior School. Co-curated by Brittne Potter, Class of 2012, and our own YHS curator, Julie Grundvig, the exhibit features five alumnae artists from a variety of classes and embraces the theme of “breaking the mold” through its exploration of a variety of mediums. We hope you will come up to see the exhibit – it’s well worth it!
Thank you for all who attended and made this Alumnae Day one of the best yet!
You are invited back to York House for an inspiring day to connect with fellow Yorkies, meet new members of the community, celebrate reunions, learn something new and more.
A Breaking the Mold panel of speakers, moderated by Julie Rousseau, new Head of School and innovative educator and leader, will include current YHS parent, Kirsten Sutton (Koopman-Osterreicher) ’83, Vice-President and Managing Director, SAP LABS CANADA, Anne Giardini, SFU Chancellor, lawyer, corporate director, author and past YHS parent, and Salima Remtulla ’00, Vice President, Operations & Corporate Strategy at Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel.
Fun hands-on experiential activities will follow in the afternoon with a chance to push boundaries and to see things through a different lens. There will also be tours of the school, the Alumnae Art Gallery exhibit, the Museum & Archives as well as yoga with Dr. Genieve Burley and mindful meditation with Senior School Counsellor Ly Hoang to start the day. Join us for an exciting alumnae versus students basketball game arranged by the YHS Alumnae Association. Come cheer on the teams! The day concludes with the opening reception of the Alumnae Art Gallery Breaking the Mold exhibit. Visit yorkhouse.ca/alumnae day for session descriptions, speaker bios, and to register.