What is your previous work experience?

After attending the University of California: Santa Cruz (UCSC) for undergraduate and graduate studies, I stayed in the Monterey Bay area to pursue a rewarding career as a middle school science teacher. Believing that increasing scientific access and literacy leads to greater environmental stewardship, I sought to increase science engagement and awareness. In addition to my time in the classroom, I partnered with local environmental organizations, increased community engagement with the school’s science program, and co-founded a district-wide program of scientific community service projects (Wings of Knowledge). In addition to my teaching experience, I assisted with scientific research at Ano Nuevo State Park, UCSC’s Psychology Department, and Moss Landing Marine Labs. I now want to use my experience in science education and community outreach to have a more direct impact on the front lines of environmental advocacy. 

Why did you choose the Nicholas School?

I chose Duke’s Nicholas School because it produces graduates who make a difference, and will therefore give me the best opportunity to become a well-rounded, impactful environmental professional.
Complex environmental problems require a bevy of skills to solve, and the flexibility of the MEM program allows for exploration of fields associated with environmental management, in addition to core courses. This integrative approach to environmental studies is what most drew me to the renowned Nicholas School, and I am eager to take classes at the law, business, and public policy schools in addition to the Nicholas school. 
Continuing this holistic educational approach, I appreciated that many of the faculty members encourage taking advantage of the myriad opportunities outside of the classroom, including clubs, networks, speaker events, institutes, and community outreach.  The faculty has also been incredibly communicative, proactive, and supportive, which shows a deep level of respect for students that I think will extend throughout the program. 

What are you looking forward to as a new Nicholas School student?

I am most looking forward to acquiring more hands-on experience in the environmental field. The client-based Master’s Project, practicum/clinic courses, summer internship, and environmental institutes throughout campus will all allow for invaluable experiential learning to occur alongside classroom learning. The development of these practical skills will allow me to fine tune my interests and prepare me for a meaningful career after the program. 
Another highlight will be meeting the world-class faculty and inspirational students of the Nicholas School in person after communicating with them digitally. I look forward to being surrounded by so many talented individuals and sharing the common goal of working towards a more sustainable future for our communities and ecosystems.  

Do you have any areas of interest or special focus you will undertake during your time at the Nicholas School?

As a member of the Ecosystem Science and Conservation track, my interest broadly lies in implementing sustainable solutions that simultaneously benefit ecosystems and societies. While I am excited to explore many topics within this realm, my current interest focus area is sustainable solutions and circularity to help mitigate plastic pollution. 
I also plan to pursue the Community Based Environmental Management certificate, as it is critical to engage local communities and multiple population subsects in environmental conversations and decision making. Learning the skills to implement environmental solutions on small and large scales will be critical in my goals of working towards sustainability and environmental justice, and I am particularly excited to collaborate with local environmental organizations through this certificate program.

What plans do you have for your career after the Nicholas School?

Whatever career path I pursue after the Nicholas School, it will be centered on minimizing and reversing environmental damage in order to help build a better planet. Currently, my plan is to capitalize on the growing awareness of plastic pollution by working in sustainability solutions, awareness, and/or policy. The experiences I have at the Nicholas School will help me hone in on my precise career path and I look forward to that explorative journey.