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Shoshana Rybeck

Shoshana, smiling, while reclining in a red chair in front of trees.

*Student-supplied profile photo due to COVID-19. Thank you, Shoshana!

Shoshana Rybeck (she/her)

Class Year: 2020
Hometown:
 
Olney, Maryland
Major: Environmental Studies
Minor: Political Economy
Extracurriculars: J Street U, ENVS elf (program assistant), SAAB tutor, Research Assistant
Overseas study: East Africa

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Vibrant, supportive, engaged

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

Of course, I was taken by the exquisite beauty of the campus. Even before I visited the campus, however, I was impressed by how L&C pushes its students to question and understand the world around them. I wanted to attain skills and information, but I also wanted to learn how to apply those skills to my personal interests and question the information we often take for granted. I wanted to come to L&C because it fosters an environment of critical thinking and individuality. The beautiful campus, lively surrounding city, mountains, and coast surely didn’t hurt.

“L&C has made me more confident in who I am and what I can accomplish. It has also made me more aware of all the change that must be made in our world to cultivate peace and justice.”
In what ways did you change as a result of your ENVS major?

As an incoming ENVS major, I was overwhelmed by the issues of our current world. Now, I am still overwhelmed but have the knowledge I gained through my studies, but I know that I can process these issues in a meaningful way. I remember feeling like I did not know enough to confront these issues when I was in ENVS 160. It felt like I would have a clear answer if I just knew a bit more. Now, I recognize that these answers do not necessarily exist; it is less about what you know and more about knowing what questions to ask.

What were the biggest challenges to you in ENVS that ultimately were worth the effort you put into them?

I never considered myself a “computer person.” After a failed attempt to learn coding in high school, I thought that computers and data analysis just weren’t for me. This changed when I took Environmental Analysis during my second year at L&C. In the course, we learned tools for qualitative, quantitative, and spatial data analysis. We learned these tools by applying them to issues we cared about: environmental justice, climate change ideologies, and more. Putting the challenging skills in the context of issues I am passionate about made it a worthwhile challenge. After this course, I continued to strengthen my spatial data analysis skills by creating two independent studies and working closely with Professor Jessica Kleiss to learn ArcGIS. Honestly, data analysis is still difficult for me, but I have learned that better understanding and communicating ideas is worth the challenge.

How did you weave your experiences outside ENVS (e.g., an overseas program, an internship, a course in another department) into your ENVS major?

During the summer of 2018, I was a research intern for the Alliance for Green Heat, a nonprofit near Washington, D.C, that works with wood stove policies. During the summer of 2019, I was an intern for Hygiene4All, a Portland-based nonprofit working to bring public hygiene access to the city’s east side. My experiences within these organizations bettered my understanding of how change is made on the local, state, and federal levels, which in turn informed my ENVS work regarding policies and institutional action.

What is one thing you’re proud of in your ENVS capstone you just completed, and where do you think it may take you in the future?

While I am proud of my final capstone outcome, I am most proud of what I learned through my research. I had moments during my research that forced me to question if my work was meaningful, significant, and legitimate. In these moments, I worked to find gaps in my research and fill the void with even more analysis, reading, and writing. This was a tiring process, but one that I am proud of. This is the part of my capstone that I think best reflects the work I will do in the future. No matter what problem I am faced with, or project I am working on, I will have to approach the topic from all angles, consider the situation holistically, and accept when I learn new information that provokes me to rethink it all.

In what ways did you change as a result of your ENVS major?

As an incoming ENVS major, I was overwhelmed by the issues of our current world. Now, I am still overwhelmed but have the knowledge I gained through my studies, but I know that I can process these issues in a meaningful way. I remember feeling like I did not know enough to confront these issues when I was in ENVS 160. It felt like I would have a clear answer if I just knew a bit more. Now, I recognize that these answers do not necessarily exist; it is less about what you know and more about knowing what questions to ask.

Bringing this all together: how does the phrase Environment Across Boundaries apply to your own experiences in ENVS, and what will you carry forward from these experiences as you take next steps in your life?

When I was younger, I was drawn to environmental studies because of its ability to connect myriad people and ideas. ENVX has consistently reminded me of this invaluable power. The events that make up ENVX have often encouraged conversations that transcend common boundaries of disciplines, topics, and identity. ENVX helped prepare me to enter the “real world” by strengthening my ability to communicate, advocate, and inquire beyond the LC space.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

The gardens in front of the Frank Manor house.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Portland?

I think Portland is a great sized city. Not too large, not too tiny, and close to the mountains and coast!

How do you manage stress?

I have found that it is best to recognize when you are not fully engaged in your work and need a break. There were so many nights where I told myself I was doing work when I was just procrastinating.

How has Lewis & Clark changed you?

L&C has made me more confident in who I am and what I can accomplish. It has also made me more aware of all the change that must be made in our world to cultivate peace and justice.

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