Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Nairobi, Kenya and grew up in Edison, New Jersey. I’ve been interested in the environment from a young age, but never studied it systematically until I joined NYU’s ES program. I’m a big fan of urban environments, escaping from urban environments, and my Aloe Vera and Madagascar Palm plants, which I’ve miraculously kept alive for the past three years.
What initially attracted you to NYU’s Environmental Studies/Animal Studies program? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
I was attracted to NYU’s ES program because I was interested in the intersection between research on environmental issues and effective policymaking and found that a lot of my courses early on emphasized both of these dimensions. I decided to pursue this degree for practical and personal reasons. Environmental issues could not be more relevant to businesses and society today, but they also could not be more important to me. Additionally, because ES is a uniquely interdisciplinary field and I knew that I would be equipped with diverse skill set when entering the job market.
What do you love most about being in the major or minor?
I love that I’ve been able to learn about and produce research on issues that I’m deeply passionate about as an ES major. Some of the most rewarding courses I’ve taken as an undergraduate have been research- and writing-intensive courses with the department. I’ve written papers exploring water resource management in sub-Saharan Africa, the cultural dimensions of the vegan movement, the challenge of sustainable development in global environmental governance, small-holder driven approaches for enhancing food system stability, and demand-pull policies to support the clean energy transition.
What is your most memorable moment while in the program and why?
I attended a two-day workshop this Spring at Columbia for a project that Professor McDermid and Professor Bell are working on. The conference was held to give scholars from different disciplines an opportunity to share and challenge each other’s views on the nexus between migration and climate change. It was a really memorable for me because I got to experience the first stages of a nationally funded research project with some of the leading scholars in the field.
What was your favorite class?
It’s a tie between Food Production and Climate Change (FPCC) and Urban Political Ecology (UPE). Both courses were taught by professors who were very involved in research in the respective issue areas. What I loved about FPCC was that it took climate change—which is easily the most popularized environmental issue, albeit for good reason—and presented it as a social issue. We learned about the biophysical impacts of climate change, but the course really challenged me to think deeply about the consequences of those impacts for food security, which is not always at the center of discussions about environmental issues. UPE was a really meaningful class for similar reasons; it made me appreciate environmental change as an issue relevant to social justice and equity. The course was also really unique in that it focused heavily on ethnographic research.
What do you hope to accomplish with your major or minor?
My biggest short-term hope is that I will be able to continue to make a positive impact in this field with organizations I’ve connected with at NYU. I was a campus leader for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby at NYU and I’m planning to join their NYC chapter to continue advocating for a carbon fee and dividend policy. I’m also looking forward to continuing to support the Leave it Better Foundation, which I learned about through the department’s career opportunities blog. In the long-term, I’d love to use the skills I’ve gained with my major to work in the policy arena.
How do you hope to combine your majors/or major and minor?
I find that the skills that I’ve gained from my double-major and minor complement each other very well. My ES and Politics courses have equipped me with strong research and writing skills. I am able to analyze complex problems that often have multiple causes and design effective solutions to address them. I hope to be able to use these skills to impact the policymaking process.
What is next for you?
I want to get some work experience next. I’m very interested in going to law school and have been since my freshman year. I’m taking some time to work for the next two years and then I’ll be applying during the 2021-2022 admissions cycle. I’ll be joining Children’s Rights as a paralegal in June. I’m really excited to work with the organization and gain more experience in the legal field. I’ll also be continuing to serve on the board for the Leave it Better Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides environmental education programming to youth in schools around the NYC.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
The first piece of advice I would give prospective students would be to meet with professor who are researching issues that are of interest to them. There is nothing more rewarding that producing your own research on a subject that matters to you and meeting with professors is a great way to learn about opportunities and resources to make this possible. The second piece of advice would be to find a part-time job or internship through the department’s career event blog early on. Getting involved with a local organization is a really great way to see how your degree can be put to use in the workplace.