DURHAM, N.C.— Second-year Master of Environmental Management (MEM) and Juris Doctor concurrent degree student Savannah Artusi spent her summer as a policy fellow for Sierra Club’s North Carolina chapter.  

Each summer, Nicholas School students complete internships with organizations around the world. These internships provide valuable opportunities to gain career-related experience and build a professional network. 

Artusi’s summer experience is funded through the Stanback Fellowship Program, a partnership between the Nicholas School of the Environment and nonprofit environmental organizations. The program provides students with project-based learning experiences in energy, conservation, advocacy, policy, research and applied resource management. 

Duke Environment recently corresponded with Artusi – who is pursuing her MEM in Ecosystem Science and Conservation – to learn more about her experience. 

What are you doing at your summer internship? 

“I support my supervising attorney in all aspects of the chapter's policy work – from monitoring relevant bills to writing legislative updates. I have also represented the chapter by providing public comment on updates to surface water quality standards for North Carolina. It has been very exciting to get to know more about government in North Carolina and to watch policies grow from ideas to enacted legislation.” 

How are you using the skills you've learned in school? How helpful has already having those skills been? 

“My Environmental Justice course that I took at the Nicholas School in spring 2021 has been very helpful. The professor, Sherri White-Williamson, introduced us to a lot of relevant N.C. issues and people in the field, people I have actually been working with this summer. The class also helped to frame my mindset going into the summer and to ensure that I center my efforts on affected communities and not just my own opinions and experiences.  

Another important skill is efficient writing, which I focused on in my Legal Analysis, Research and Writing course with professor Rebecca Rich at the Duke Law School and then continued to improve during a Legal Writing course I took in fall 2020 with professor Joan Magat, also known as Coach J.” 

How will this experience help you in your career? 

“My career plan is to be an environmental lawyer. There are numerous options within that career, and this summer experience has really helped me explore some of those options.  

I worked for Earthjustice as a litigation clerk last summer, which was another awesome experience but very different work, so now I have two major summer experiences I can look back on when making career decisions in the future.  

Plus, I have met so many passionate and hardworking people who I hope to cross paths with again in my future career!”