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Donor Hub | Donor spotlight

UBC alumni give now to enhance the future, Barbara Dabrowski and Robert Shepherd

March 18, 2019

Husband and wife team Robert Shepherd (BASc ‘69, MEng ’79) and Barbara Dabrowski (BASc ‘78, MASc ’81) share more in common than thriving careers in environmental engineering. They both credit their education with helping them to have a positive impact on society.

To support the program that started their careers and pay it forward, Barbara and Robert donated funds to create and endow the Dabrowski and Shepherd Award in Environmental Engineering. By endowing this fund now, Barbara and Robert get to witness the impact of their support and to hear the stories of the graduate students they support. Barbara and Robert have also left a significant legacy in their wills that will expand this award significantly through their estate.

“We’re grateful for the foundation that engineering gave us for our success,” explains Barbara. “We want to give back so that young people who might not have a chance otherwise can pursue a Masters.”

Barbara and Robert met when they were two of only three students in one of the earliest cohorts in the Master of Environmental Engineering Program at UBC. They graduated when environmental engineering was an emerging field and industries and governments were just beginning to consider how to minimize negative environmental impacts.

“For the first time, new government regulations were being put in place,” says Robert. “A whole field opened up in environmental engineering that didn’t exist before.”

The couple enjoyed successful, although different paths in the field. Robert worked in industry, consulting and the federal government, while Barbara’s career spanned industry, government and education. Since starting out in the profession, they have seen huge changes in how industries operate and advances in sustainable engineering practices.

“We think environmental engineering is important and it has the potential to become even more important than it is today,” says Robert.

Barbara and Robert will leave a legacy that will impact the lives of graduate students in engineering for decades to come.

“We hope the award will put others in a similar good position to start their careers,” says Barbara. “We hope it will encourage them to pursue the field regardless of their financial circumstances.”