Ben Sey, Dean, School of Energy

< More Stories
November 10, 2015
An example of the power of perseverance, Ben Sey
Ben Sey, Dean, School of Energy
 Now dean of Lakeland College’s School of Energy and Environmental Sciences, Sey earned a BSc in agriculture from the University of Ghana and then, in 2000, moved to Canada for graduate studies at the University of Alberta.

“I came to Canada with one little suitcase and $250 in cash. I had no idea how I was going to pay my tuition but I came anyway,” recalls Sey. Fortunately the university had funding in place for Sey as he began work on his master’s. While working on his thesis, he was accepted into a doctoral program at McGill University. He remembers his eventful drive from Edmonton to Montreal in late December 2002 to start the program.

“I bought an old 1992 Ford station wagon from a friend for $500 and set out for Montreal on Dec. 29, 2002. I’d only had my licence for a few months and, unsurprisingly, I hit the ditch twice. That was my introduction to winter driving in Canada,” recalls Sey. It took him four days to travel to Montreal but the long drive gave him an appreciation for the scale and beauty of Canada.

For the next six months he divided his time between completing his thesis for his master’s in soil science, taking courses for his PhD in renewable resources, and working part-time as a teaching assistant at McGill. He completed his master’s in 2003 and his doctorate in 2006.

Sey and his wife Abena, also a member of McGill’s Class of 2006, moved to Alberta soon after completing their degrees to pursue their careers. “Alberta was booming at the time. So we headed west to Edmonton with no jobs and no place to stay,” says Sey.

They both had a hard time finding jobs. Sey cut keys in the hardware department of Home Depot and Abena served coffee at Tim Hortons. “It was a very humbling experience for both of us but we needed those jobs to survive,” says Sey. Months later he worked at a call centre that offered health benefits. During that time he approached a professor at the University of Alberta about possible openings at his alma mater.

“While there weren’t any positions at the university, I was directed to Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (AAFRD),” says Sey. In November 2006 he was hired by AAFRD as a soil quality agrologist, a position that launched his career. He’s since worked at Syncrude Canada Ltd. as a senior environmental specialist, Rescan Environmental Services as a soil scientist, and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. as reclamation specialist. He joined Lakeland College in October.

Sey smiles when he thinks about the variety of occupations he’s had in his life, such as teaching high school chemistry and Grade one as part of his national service requirements in Ghana, instructing labs at McGill, and being dropped off in the Arctic by a helicopter to do site assessments. There have been many career highlights such as serving as the co-chair of the Best Management Practices (BMP) sub-committee of the Cumulative Environmental Management Association, tasked with producing Alberta’s first industry-wide set of reclamation BMP guidelines for the oil sands industry. He also developed a soil management system for Canadian Natural’s Horizon mine and, at AAFRD, helped create a manual of statistical methods for analyzing research data.

“My background gives me a very broad perspective to draw from as dean,” he says. “I’m passionate about education and I’m very excited to be working at Lakeland College.”

Photo: Ben Sey is the new dean of a new school at Lakeland College: the School of Energy (formerly the School of Energy and Environmental Sciences).
What Students Say
With the Student-Managed Farm you learn to be accountable for what you’re doing and the choices you make. You get an understanding of what it’s like to be out in industry or on a farm making decisions that count.

– Anthony Biglieni

Agribusiness Class of 2006

What Alumni Say
Lakeland College has been a integral partner in growing our own through the school of business. As an alumnus of the college, I have first-hand learning experience in the school of business. The professors welcome Servus Credit Union to facilitate classes in the Business Ethics course each year.

– Sandi Unruh

Senior Human Resources Consultant

What Faculty & Staff Say
Vertex has had great experience bringing on students from Lakeland College. We have found the Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Management) program to provide students with good academic knowledge of the environmental industry and the criteria that governs the land reclamation

– Sean Fuller B.Sc., P.Ag.

Vice President, Environmental Services, Vertex.

What Alumni Say
There is no way I would be where I am today without Lakeland College. It inspired me to be a better person and to get a job in something I love doing. I am so thankful I had such a great experience at Lakeland and I hope future students do as well.

– Danielle Gaboury

Business studies, Class of 2016.

What Students Say
I recommend the UT program to people all the time. The smaller setting Lakeland offers, is very conducive to learning. It's less intimidating than the larger universities and allows for more class interactions and discussions

– Kelly Mykytuk

2nd year UT student, 2017-18

What Alumni Say
I have loved my experience at Lakeland. The teachers are personable, and quick to share about their own experiences. They encouraged me to run with my own ideas and see what would happen; they got excited about my designs, which gave me the confidence to do my best and be more creative.

– Payton Ramstead

Class of 2016, Interior Design student.

What Alumni Say
At Lakeland College you are guaranteed to have time out of the classroom where you can put everything you learned together and actually see that what you’re learning is relevant.

– Alisa Brace

Animal Health Technology, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The friendships I made, the experiences we were provided with, and the welcoming atmosphere of the Vermilion Campus made my time at Lakeland extremely valuable and memorable

– Grayden Kay

Animal Science & Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
Lakeland College was a learning environment unlike any other school. It allows students to learn beyond the classroom, and staff and faculty genuinely want to see students succeed. It’s a place where you can feel comfortable asking questions and where everyone has a place and fits in.

– Carson Reid

Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The instructors were the highlight of my time at Lakeland. It made a huge impact on my college experience to have instructors who challenged, encouraged, and believed in me.

– Jessica Cadrain

Child & Youth Care, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
At the beginning of my first year, I was really stressed out as I felt I had no artistic ability. But with the instruction and time put in by the interior design faculty, I was able to develop my artistic abilities. Now I am fully confident in and exceeding well in the artistic side of this career!

– Naomi Mason

Interior Design Technology, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I just feel like you get the best education at Lakeland, especially from the time that the instructors can actually spend with you. I like the class sizes too – everything’s been great about my Lakeland experience.

– Dean Coulson

Heavy Equipment Technician, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I do give Lakeland College credit for reigniting my interest and even preparing me for Miss Rodeo Canada. Lakeland helped me to grow enough to have the confidence to think I could take on that role and become that person. I think that I have and I am really grateful for that

– Ali Mullin

Agribusiness, class of 2014, former Miss Rodeo Canada.

What Alumni Say
I feel the professors at Lakeland actually prepared me for the profession. It’s impossible to be just a number here when there are 12 students in all of your classes. When the school advertised small class sizes, they actually meant it.

– Stephen Mark Visser

Real Estate Appraisal and Assessment, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I was involved in the president’s gala in April where I was an emcee for the evening, it was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun doing it and would recommend it to everyone.”

– Lucas Tetreault

HOPE Power Engineering, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
I would recommend Lakeland College for the simple fact that it's for everybody. As a mature student who went back to school much later than his 18th year, I was immediately accepted, and not ostracized in the least

– Donald James Shaw

Accounting Major, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
All the hands-on learning was great and very helpful once placed into the industry. Having clients leave with a smile after each service assured me that I was in the right field of work. I would recommend Lakeland to anyone.

– Courtnee Coolidge

Esthetician, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The professors care so much about their students at Lakeland and are able to know each and every one of them by name, so much so that they are able to nominate a ton of students for awards.

– Stephanie Wakefeild

University Transfer, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
They really put you in the lead at Lakeland. Lakeland cares about its students, empowers them, and gives them opportunities to achieve their goals. I don’t see Lakeland as a stepping stone or a first step – I see it as a bridge and an integral part of my education.

– Alyssa Wells

University Transfer, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
I wanted to get experience in the field of assessment as it would give me exposure to what it’s like day to day. It was an invaluable experience as I find it hard to imagine what it would be like working in a particular field or area until I’m doing the work.

– Sheldon Farrell

Real estate appraisal and assessment, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
In the campus spa, they give you time to work with each client so nothing is rushed and you’re able to concentrate on providing the best service you can to your client.

– Daphney Couturier

Esthetician, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
It’s going to be a lot easier to start our first jobs having this experience and having been able to build our confidence in the campus spa. I love that we get to have this opportunity.

– Darby Watchel

Esthetician, Class of 2017.