Thompson Rivers University

Tourism grad sets sights on industry sustainability

  Posted on: May 30, 2019

Fauve Garson is TRU’s 2019 valedictorian for the Faculty of Adventure, Culinary Arts and Tourism Management.

Garson grew up in BC’s Lower Mainland before moving to Kamloops over 10 years ago, where she’s proud to call the Tournament Capital home. When it came time to consider post-secondary education, she decided to stay local, close to family and friends and poised to contribute to her local community and economy after graduation.

For her, the choice was simple: “Why not study where I want to work and where I want to play one day, right?”

Garson didn’t land on studying tourism right away, but first applied to TRU’s Bachelor of Arts where she thought she might pursue criminology. It didn’t feel quite right, so she opted to take time off to travel.

After roaming Southeast Asia and the east coast of Australia, she returned home high on the tourism wave. It was almost clandestine, then, when a colleague at work told her about the events and festivals program she was in at TRU. Inspired to learn more about this potential career path that combined many of her interests, Garson decided to enrol in a few events classes to see where they took her. Fast-forward to today and she’s graduating with a Bachelor of Tourism Management, is valedictorian for her faculty, has three dean’s list appearances and other academic accolades under her belt.

Garson appreciated the opportunities a smaller university was able to offer.

“Getting involved in research was a really big highlight,” she said. “It led to a lot of really incredible opportunities that I’m not sure I would have had in my post-secondary journey otherwise.”

On top of conducting independent research under TRU’s Undergraduate Research Experience Award Program (UREAP), she was a third-year research assistant and a research coach for the second-year People, Places and the Toured Landscape course. She volunteered for Bridal Fair and IDays, and was a member of TRUSU’s Professional Convention Management Association. When it came time to appoint a new dean to her faculty, Garson was chosen as the student representative for the search committee.

Off-campus during her program, she worked with Tourism Kamloops—the city’s destination marketing organization—and volunteered with Operation Red Nose, Snowbombing Canada and even as an anthem singer for Kamloops Blazers games. She also attended an international tourism conference in South Africa, where she brought home the distinction of Best Student Research Paper.

She found a lot of support at TRU and said the entire faculty was incredible: “It’s so hard to name names because every single one of them really had an impact on my journey. John Hull was my UREAP supervisor and has been an incredible mentor. Robin Reid got me into research in the first place, and she has been nothing but supportive.”

In addition to her UREAP grant, Garson secured some impressive awards throughout her education: the Research-Informed Learning, Shaver and Wells Gray Tours scholarships; and the Ken Lepin Prize of Excellence in Tourism Management.

The best part of being at TRU?

“The people. The people are so incredible,” said Garson.

“I am totally inspired by the unique individuals I have been fortunate enough to meet within TRU’s tourism program. The diversity and inclusivity made for an incredible, valued and unforgettable undergraduate experience.”

Next up for Garson: Graduate studies in environmental science.

Her long-term dream is to see as many places as she can in the most ethical and responsible way possible, because each new experience grows her as a traveler and tourist. She appreciates the benefits tourism can have in communities, but also acknowledges the detriments it can have on those communities and their environments.

As such, her career goals revolve around environmental sustainability in the tourism industry, and looking at how to make better places for people to live and to visit.

“I am a firm believer that without a healthy environment, the tourism industry would have a very difficult time operating both ethically and successfully,” said Garson. “Therefore, I am pursuing a master’s of science in order to apply my tourism education to an environmental context.”

What’s something most people don’t know about TRU?

“We’re considered one of the most sustainable universities. So if you want to come somewhere where you can feel good about studying, I would definitely say TRU is that place.”

Fauve Garson