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Alumni Profile: Emma McLaren '99

Director, Buyer Engagement

Adventure-seeking Emma McLaren has been roaming the globe for the past decade. Having visited 58 countries, Emma the Nomad, as she is known, is on a journey of discovery and exploration that she shares through social media and blogging. Most recently, she launched a pilot project, Where is Emma the Nomad?, submitting video travel logs to elementary school teachers, taking students on virtual trips around the world and introducing them to different cultures, places and people. “Hello, Little Nomads! Can you guess where I am?” has become her signature opening in the video logs.

With a master’s degree in marine management, Emma is the Buyer Engagement Director of Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), a company that works with industry to deliver sustainable seafood. SFP does not have a headquarters, meaning that Emma is not required to lay down roots in any particular place. Home is wherever she happens to be at a given moment or wherever work sends her.

Emma’s travel adventures not only offer her a window on the world, they also serve as meaningful personal growth experiences. She recalls her 40-kilometre trek on the Inca trail in Peru, only to arrive at Machu Picchu in the rain. Her epiphany then, was that the journey itself is what’s important. “Imagine if I had ignored the ruins and trail and the lovely moments along the way,” she says. “Though the clouds parted briefly, allowing me to see the magical structure, I did recognize that had I not gotten to see it, the trip still would have been amazing and brought so much to my life.”

For Emma, a typical day might be spent canoeing, catching piranhas, serving them up for dinner and boating in the dark as flying freshwater barracuda fling themselves into the boat, as was the case in the Amazon jungle.

But despite the excitement and adventure, leading this unconventional, nomadic lifestyle can be physically and emotionally taxing, and Emma has had to develop strategies to remain grounded and energized. She integrated yoga, meditation and other self-care activities into her routine and is excited about her new relationship with LCC’s Junior School students, who eagerly anticipate her periodic videos from – wherever on earth she is.

This past year, Emma brought the social studies curriculum alive for grade 3 students who had their global perspective broadened through her photos, videos and commentaries. The experience also allowed them to develop their online research skills as they delved into learning about the flora, fauna, geography and religions of the places that Emma was exploring. She also hopes to share the values of authenticity, mindfulness and conservation with her little nomads. Ultimately, Emma wants her project to support hard-working teachers and give them extra materials for their lesson planning. In the coming school year, Emma will reach out to other teachers and classrooms in both North America and the world, bringing more students along for the adventure.

Emma is particularly eager to act as a role model for young girls and to show them the breadth of opportunities available to them. As part of the second cohort of girls to enter LCC, she found the male-dominated environment somewhat challenging. At the same time, she developed her confidence and sense of self during those years. “The hardest things in life,” she says, “are what build our character the most.”