Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello! My name is Diamond, and I am senior at NYU majoring in Environmental Studies with minors in both Animal Studies and Social and Public Policy. I am also part of the NYU Animal Studies BA-MA program! I am originally from Knoxville, Tennessee but always wanted to move out to a more urban area, so New York was perfect for me. I have had a passion for animals my whole life and started volunteering at my local animal clinic when I was 12 years old. From there, I envisioned working with animals but didn’t know the possibilities outside of veterinary work. Coming to New York and being exposed to the ES and AS program, I have found a new passion for animal welfare policy and advocacy. Currently, I am interning at the Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare, and I absolutely love it. One day, I hope to move to London to continue working in animal welfare policy, but for now I am enjoying all New York has to offer! What initially attracted you to the NYU’s Environmental Studies/Animal Studies program? When I started at NYU, I was first a biology major. I had a passion for science in high school and wanted to continue pursuing biology in college. However, after my first semester, I knew I needed a change. My CAS advisor actually recommended that I take an environmental science class to explore my options, maintaining my path in science but shifting somewhat in field. From that first week in Environment and Society, I knew that this was the path I wanted to explore. From there, I discovered the Animal Studies program and continued to take classes in both programs.
Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
I wanted to continue studying a subject in science but really enjoyed the complexity environmental science offers. Every class intertwines ideas and problems of the environment, animals, and people in a way I had never been taught. Continuing with my minors, I found that I enjoyed research, but particularly the kind of research that informs policy and can cause actual, achievable change. With my degree, I hope to work in government or policy, and the opportunities and knowledge this degree has given me have been invaluable.
What do you love most about being in the major or minor?
The thing I love most about the ES/AS program is the support from the community that comes with it, especially from the professors. I have always felt supported by my professors in this program, unlike I have in any other classes. I’m not one to usually go into office hours, but I often find myself going to see a professor even just for 5 minutes to talk about something minor, feeling so much better and confident once I leave. Aside from that, I have really appreciated how interdisciplinary the program is. I have been able to take classes about humanities, law, science, policy, advocacy, and philosophy, all through the lens of environmental science and animals. The opportunities this program offers have been immense, and I’m so glad I found it here at NYU.
What is your most memorable moment while in the program and why?
I think my most memorable moment was during one of Professor Wolfson’s class dinners. Twice a semester, he takes ten students to a local vegan restaurant with a guest lecturer, and I was lucky enough to be able to attend both. I remember at the first dinner, there were mostly seniors at the dinner, so he asked what each of us had planned for after graduation. To be honest, I had no clue which is exactly what I told him. However, 3 months later at the second dinner, I finally had an answer. Being at my internship at the Mayor’s Office and taking his class, I knew I wanted to work in animal welfare policy. I remember this moment so well because it was the first time I had actually felt confident in that answer and was then able to have more discussion with Professor Wolfson about where that career would take me and all the possibilities that were ahead.
What was your favorite class?
My favorite class was David Wolfson’s Animals and Public Policy course. I was just beginning my minor in public policy and was curious how this could be relevant to animal welfare. This class honestly taught me so much, about public policy and myself. I really started to understand my interests and passions in the class, and it truly helped shape my future career path.
What do you hope to accomplish with your major or minor?
After graduation, I will begin on my Master’s degree full-time in Animal Studies at NYU. After that, I hope to work in governmental affairs, providing research and expertise to inform animal welfare policy.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
I would say to explore any and all of your interests in this program. Taking just one class changed so much for me, so it’s really important to just try everything available and explore new opportunities. One of the major benefits of this program is its flexibility—there are so many different ways and classes you can take to satisfy your degree requirements. Even if you think it’s a stretch, just ask your advisor and you might be surprised. I would also say it’s important to take advantage of all of the resources available to you in this program. The ES/AS program is relatively small, so make use of office hours and talk with your professors and classmates about any questions you have! The relationships you build during these four years can truly shape your future, so push yourself to make them and to go to events (there is usually free food so added bonus). Lastly, I would say to just enjoy your time in college and in this program. In the last four years, I have learned and grown so much (so much so, I wanted to stay another year for my masters!). Use this time to explore your passions, learn new things, and meet as many people as you can!