February 10, 2021

Reflect and Rebuild

ENVS alumna Emma Hay, ’20, refocuses her career goals after graduating during the pandemic.
  • Emma Hay

Graduating in a global pandemic is not something that I imagined when dreaming about my life as a college graduate. Like many others, my post-grad job as an Outdoor Education Teacher was cancelled due to COVID restrictions. Instead of immediately jumping into full-blown adulthood, living on my own and finding my way in the word, I landed back in Los Angeles in the guest bedroom of my father’s house. Despite the obvious challenges which came with living under a parent’s roof as an adult, this experience provided me with something that I did not realize that I needed: time.

For those few months, I had ample time think about what kind of life I wanted to live, who I wanted to be, and what was important to prioritize. This time to slow down helped me sort out the puzzle pieces of my life and rebuild what my next steps were. It was also during this time that I planned out and went on a two month road trip with three of my good friends, backpacking, climbing, and camping across the wilderness areas of Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Utah. Spending all this time in the most beautiful outdoor spaces, encouraged me to wait out the rest of the pandemic in a place with access to them. Two weeks after returning from this trip, I packed up and moved across states to Boulder, Colorado.

Since being here, I have had many jobs (which I told myself during college that I would never do once I had a degree), such as working at a grocery store, doing behind the scenes setup at the farmers market, and nannying. However, I have figured out that even while working service jobs, I could still find ways to practice and think about environmentalism, as well as set myself up for a life of passion and meaning. I found this through volunteering with the National Young Farmers Coalition, helping set up their educational committee to assist newer Colorado farmers who want to be more intentional with their practices. I also found this through an excessive amount of reading, podcasts, and conversations with friends and peers.

Ultimately, I have decided that my next step in life is teaching. I have been accepted to work for Denver Public Schools as an Elementary Fellow this next school year, helping bridge the educational gap for students of the highest need. At the same time I will also attend Relay Graduate School of Education to get a Colorado Teaching License as well as my Master’s in Teaching. I will use this career choice as a means of reaching communities, families, and children, to inspire new creative and passionate global citizens. If ENVS has taught me anything, it is that environmentalism and environmental work is intersectional with absolutely anything and everything. No matter what job or career you choose, as long as you are curious and passionate, it will provide and/or allow for opportunities to strive for and incorporate aspects of environmental action, literacy, and learning.