ENVS Blog: The Journey Shapes the Destination
April 24, 2018
Choosing environmental studies as my minor at Lewis & Clark was pivotal in shaping my current career path. I took almost three years at Lewis & Clark to choose between a major in biology and environmental studies. Looking back on it, I realize that ultimately it was the journey of combining the two programs (a major in biology and minor in ENVS) that gave me so many unique opportunities.
When it came time to choose my ENVS concentration during my sophomore year, I immediately gravitated towards the idea of studying marine ecosystem conservation in East Africa. Marine conservation intrigued me because I had gown up in Colorado and spent much of my childhood in Namibia, where I worked alongside my parents studying desert elephants. As a child, both Namibia and Colorado felt far removed from the ocean.
About a year after I proposed my ENVS concentration, I found myself studying abroad in Tanzania and snorkeling on the very same reefs I had originally proposed to study for my concentration. I quickly fell in love with Tanzania and the Indian Ocean and I decided to stay in Tanzania after my study abroad program had ended. I got my open water SCUBA certification in Tanzania and continued my research project on the coastal reefs. The experience of studying abroad and conducting meaningful research opened so many doors for me and taught me what I was capable of achieving.
Since graduating from Lewis & Clark three years ago, I have traveled, worked and lived in 10 different countries. Immediately upon graduating, I took an internship at the School for Field Studies, Center for Marine Resource Studies in Turks & Caicos Islands. I designed and oversaw field exercises for university students in marine biology and environmental policy and expanded my own knowledge of marine conservation practices. I maintained my love for SCUBA diving, by working as a divemaster and pursuing my SCUBA instructor certification.
I currently work as a middle and high school science educator at an expedition based school in Colorado. The benefit of such an interdisciplinary education is that I’m able to show my students just how closely connected they are to the ocean and the rest of the world as global citizens. I’m excited to have the opportunity to pilot a new overseas program to take my students to Tanzania to learn about the interconnectedness of culture and conservation.
None of what I have accomplished since leaving L&C would have been possible without the support and also the push I received from the Environmental Studies and Biology faculty. Every day, I work to instill the same sense of curiosity, depth of critical thinking and passion for learning in my students that my professors at L&C instilled in me.
For anyone who is currently considering or pursuing an Environmental Studies degree at Lewis & Clark, the biggest pearl of wisdom that I hope I can pass on to you is the following: Never think that you have to have your concentration, major, or career “figured out.” Take every opportunity and every curve ball that your education gives you and run with it. You don’t need to know exactly what your end goal is, because ultimately it’s the journey that shapes the destination.