What initially attracted you to NYU’s Environmental Studies program? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
I actually came in set on doing International Relations as my only major. During my first conversation with my CAS advisor, I thought hard about what were some of the classes I wanted to learn more about but didn’t have the time to; AP Environmental Science was incredibly memorable and so I decided to see what a double major would look like. Honestly, when I brought up this idea knowing I would be on the honours track, many pointed out to me that the overlap was slim and I would have to maintain a diligent schedule planned out in order to achieve my majors/minor plan. Furthermore, not many students were pursuing these majors together so I am very happy to have found a few encouraging, like minded peers along the way. This pairing will allow me to strengthen the skills needed to be analytical and effective agent of change.
What do you love most about being in the major?
I love the ability to make the major as interdisciplinary as you’d like. Everyone is coming from a different angle as to how they want to apply this degree programme, so I am constantly learning from my peers about how issues of sanitation, food systems, or earth science tie in with history, economics, anthropology, policy, and the list goes on.
What is your most memorable moment while in the program and why?
It may come as a surprise, but one of my readings in “Environment and Society” proved to be one of the most influential readings to date. One of the pieces in our assigned textbook completely redefined environmentalism for me. “Laudato Si” by Pope Francis was my first introduction to faith-based stewardship. While not Catholic, my spirituality is essential to who I am and my desire to make every single action represent God’s love. By focusing on environmental degradation and the poor, Pope Francis illustrates the inseparable relationship between improving the livelihoods of the unfortunate while protecting and restoring natural ecosystems. Environmental justice was foundational in empowering me to pursue environmentalism wholeheartedly because it incorporates and validates marginalised individuals while pursuing a healthier Earth. This work reinforced those principles while embracing my identity in Christ.
What was your favorite class?
Urban Environmentalism with Prof. Kizzy Charles-Guzman was my favourite class pre-remote setting because it was extremely practical and allowed us to elevate ourselves beyond the theoretical. Fundamentals of Ecology with Prof. Katie Scheinder Paolantonio was definitely a highlight of mine because of how interactive and multifaceted our homeworks and discussions were. To have built that kind of community over Zoom is impressive!
What do you hope to accomplish with your major or minor?
I’d like to work in the sphere of international diplomacy, whether on high-level things like negotiations, or on the ground with building resilient physical and social infrastructures in communities. Wherever I end up has to be interactive with people and/or language as reaching people through cultural sensitivity, empathy, and collaboration is one of my biggest concerns. While all communities inspire and motivate this desire, my heart lies in gathering resources for the most vulnerable communities to uplift economic prosperity and security for those ostracised from their societies.
What is next for you? What do you plan to do after graduation?
I am entering my final year with some very exciting pathways on how to move forward. I am fortunate enough to be doing research right now with a government agency and hope to carry that into my senior thesis work. After that, I hope to utilise a post-graduate fellowship abroad in order to give me more insight on what kind of tertiary degree to pursue after graduation.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
Do not feel restricted with the kinds of topics or issues you think may be represented within the major and environmentalism at large. Utilise professors to inspire you, to give you practical insight into what role you can play at any given stage of your life journey. At the same time, do the readings! There is so much richness in these course curricula, and you never know which text will put your mind to the next research topic and/or project.