Garrett Gerrard is working toward a more ecological future. He’s working hard because it’s hard work.
Sustainability was a big part of his game plan while he was still a student at Bellerose High School and that hasn’t changed now that he’s studying Mechanical Engineering and working on electric cars at Montreal's McGill University.
Pushing for positive change is a battle often fought uphill, he says. Being one of the recent recipients of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Citizenship Medal makes him feel like the ground is levelling off.
“It means a lot. At the end of the day, a lot of what we are and who we are is what we believe in and what we push for,” he said.
“There are certainly times … that you might question why you're doing what you're doing or what you believe in just because of what other people might say to you or some of the backlash that you might get for what you're doing. It's not always easy to put yourself out there time and time again and to work time and time again. It’s days like this where you come and you're awarded this medal. It means a lot because it says that now there are people out there that recognize the good work that you do and that what you believe in is what we want to see in today's youth.”
While he was still a high school student, Gerrard founded the Bellerose Sustainability Initiative as a way to help build a greener culture at the school and throughout St. Albert. Through the program, he instituted the Energy Literacy Awareness Campaign to begin tracking energy usage at Bellerose while looking into ways that it could be reduced.
He also volunteered at the Edmonton Food Bank and Ronald McDonald House, not to mention being a keen participant of the school's ever-popular Bike-a-thon, as other ways of giving back to the community and making the world a better place.
Last year, Gerrard graduated from Bellerose as its valedictorian and moved into his first year of mechanical engineering at McGill University with the help of the Prestige Scholarship, the largest scholarship that McGill offers.
His freshman year was eventful, seeing him join the university’s Formula E team to work on the technical side of an ongoing electric vehicle competition. They build a formula electric car and race it on circuits throughout North America. This year, their car was the Formula SAE Electric 2019 Champion, winning 1st Place Overall.
Gerrard also made the Dean's List in his studies.
Now that he’s back home for the summer to work on an engineering internship, and accept the occasional medal from the Queen’s representative in the province, he had the chance to reflect on where he’s been so far in his life and the goals he still hopes to achieve.
“This helps you reaffirm what you believe in, and that you are doing the right thing and that you are pushing for the right ideas. You have the right motivations to do what's right, and to make a difference in someone else's life,” he said.
He stressed how much he credits the full support of his parents and the experiences that he had at Bellerose for the success he enjoys today. After the summer, he’ll go back to Montreal to continue his mechanical engineering studies. After he graduates from that program, he hopes to take an MBA in finance. It’s all with one great goal in mind.
“My dream is to be an entrepreneur for a renewable energy company and follow that passion there and, hopefully, do everything I can to give back to my community and on a global scale for green energy and sustainability. It’s something that I've always been passionate about, something I've always really pushed for.”