Yukon College grad wins prestigious prize

Jesse Vigliotti has one piece of advice for mature students considering a career change through further education. "Take the plunge. It's definitely worth it," said the 31-year-old father of two.

Jesse Vigliotti has one piece of advice for mature students considering a career change through further education.

“Take the plunge. It’s definitely worth it,” said the 31-year-old father of two. “If you’re not happy in your current situation in your career, it’s worth it for your own happiness and for the happiness of the people around you. It’s worth it.”

Vigliotti, a recent graduate of the Yukon College’s Northern Outdoor and Environmental Studies program, won the Governor General’s Academic Medal.

The prize is awarded each year to students with the highest grade point averages in a Canadian high school, college and university. Vigliotti won the college category. This is the first time a Yukon College graduate received the prize.

His grade point average of 3.99 – one point shy of a perfect 4.0 – clearly put him at the top, said Bente Sorensen, Yukon College’s financial aid advisor.

“There were a few other very good contestants but Jesse was clearly the winner,” said Sorensen. “It speaks to the success some mature students are capable of. Those who have some life experience can really put that to good use in our programs.

“We’re extremely proud of Jesse’s accomplishments.”

Almost immediately following the completion of the program, Vigliotti was hired by Ecological Logistics and Research as a wildlife surveyor. He’s doing exactly what the program was intended to teach students to do, said Sorensen.

Vigliotti helps conduct wildlife surveys at the abandoned mine site of Mount Nansen, a mine 60 kilometres west of Carmacks.

As part of the Yukon government’s cleanup of the site, the team tracks the number of birds in the area through sightings, counting different bird songs and nest areas, as well as recording tracks and pellets, said Vigliotti.

The former gold and silver mine was shut down in 1999, after repeated violations of the terms of its water license on the part of mine operator BYG Natural Resources Inc. Concentrations of arsenic, cyanide and lead were found contaminating nearby waterways in the traditional territory of the Little Salmon Carmacks/First Nation, according to the Yukon government’s assessment.

With the company undergoing bankruptcy proceedings, it fell on the federal and territorial governments to start cleanup efforts at Nansen. So they hired Ecological Logistics and Research.

For Vigliotti, working outdoors with plants and animals is exactly where he wants to be.

“I just wasn’t excited about the idea of a career in carpentry or working as a chef,” he said. “I was definitely excited to go back to school, and excited about doing something that makes me happy.”

Vigliotti’s career and life goals weren’t clearly ordained. His time training as a carpenter was shortened by a hand injury with a circular saw. It was that potentially career-ending injury that led to the decision to follow his life goals, said Vigliotti.

“In a weird way I was lucky,” said Vigliotti of the injury. “I received worker’s compensation after the injury for retraining, and I went for it.”

Grants and loans are available for mature students wishing to return to school. Still, it isn’t easy, said Vigliotti.

“It was maybe a little scary after 16 years of being out of school,” he said.

It’s important to have support from your partner, said Vigliott. His wife Miranda, who works for the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, was an enormous help, he said.

“She’s happy with me being happy, and that’s exactly what this whole process has been about,” said Vigliotti.

But he isn’t done yet. Vigliotti plans to take advantage of the college’s partnership with the University of Alberta to complete a Bachelor of Science degree.

The degree can be taken in its entirety at Yukon College, and in the end, a successful student will receive a University of Alberta degree.

All in all, Vigliotti said the experience was exactly what he needed

“The college has definitely helped me directly with my fieldwork,” said Vigliotti. “I’m very impressed with how well the program has prepared me for my career goals.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Most Read