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Working towards a B.A. in Environmental Studies and minor in Urban Studies at Queens College has helped me develop a foundation on which I can concretely contribute to climate resilience and challenge the barriers between what was and what is possible.
Finding my academic niche and truly understanding the level of commitment doing well requires was a game changing experience for me; I started really doing well in my classes, and in the nerdiest of admissions, was hooked. In the last year, I made Dean’s List, and in Fall 2013, achieved my highest academic accomplishment: a straight-A 18-credit term. I am presently treasurer of the Environmental Club and student representative on the Sustainability Committee.
The ultimate satisfaction for me in this endeavor has been finding quiet in this city, and the wondrous feeling of sore muscles after a day of heavy lifting and manual labor. It is both humbling and therapeutic, and a privilege that my efforts are enjoyed by others. Ultimately, I hope to continue this and start up other urban gardens across the country. I currently run the Elmhurst Community Garden in Queens. I am responsible for project design and execution. In the last fourteen months, the property has been transformed from a dumping ground to a fenced garden with raised planting beds, trees, benches, and a native butterfly garden. I have worked closely with the Community Board and NYS Senate Director of Special Projects and have been featured in local print and television news.
My interest in environmental science was sparked in high school while taking AP Environmental Science in 11th grade. Entering Queens College, I quickly learned in my first Honors seminar that pursuing a degree in something I am passionate about, rather than the most lucrative major, was crucial. The Environmental Studies major has allowed me to deepen my understanding of our rapidly changing world, the politics surrounding environmental issues, and the role we play in shaping the future of our planet.
With a specific focus on New York City, I have researched environmental justice in minority neighborhoods, immigration trends, and the legislative processes behind policies and have been involved in the Urban Studies club since my freshman year. Last summer, I was able to take the knowledge I gained in the classroom and apply it outside Queens College as a communications and marketing intern at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. The Environmental Studies major has pushed me to question environmental policy and how legislation has safeguarded the public or failed to protect them. I hope to continue actively engaging in the sustainability issues I study each day by pursuing a degree in Environmental Law.
My involvement with the Urban Studies Department at Queens College has allowed me to better understand the complexities and importance of addressing urban issues. Brownfield redevelopment, for example, includes the overlap of environmental science, public health, local economics, and social dynamics which requires multidimensional approaches for success. I have learned that measurements of this success vary depending on the stakeholder; this plays a large role in complicating local politics. I have been taught how to recognize these variables and utilize this skill in a number of internships.
Through the Urban Studies Department I was able to partake in a land use and demographic analysis study collaborating with faculty and fellow students where I gained valuable skills including GIS mapping. In addition, the required environmental internship course provided the opportunity to conduct research for the NYC Brownfield Partnership on NYS’ current policies regarding BF redevelopment. These experiences provided ample networking opportunities with people of similar and varying interests.
As an Environmental Studies and Environmental Science double major I am interested in urban adaptation to climate change. My interests lie particularly in how economically distressed coastal communities like Red Hook can be equitably and sustainably developed to be resilient to these effects.
I’ll be graduating this May and will be applying for graduate programs in City Planning/Environmental Management.
In May 2014, I will receive a BA in Environmental Studies and Anthropology from Queens College. I did not start my journey here at Queens College. Everything began at LaGuardia Community College where, I received an AA Degree in Liberal Arts: Social Science and Humanities. Because I attended LaGuardia, some people have asked me, “Why a community college school first”? My answer is very simple as a High School graduate; I was not sure about attending college. So I chose a community college to give myself time to learn more about my options and myself. LaGuardia Community College gave me the confidence, resources and patience I needed to make those decisions.
With great success I graduated and decided to continue my college career. I wanted to continue being a great role model to my 12 siblings, while also expanding my horizons. Queens College was my first choice and I was accepted. When first entering Queens, I was an Environmental Science student. But as time went on I realized I wanted to learn more about science and social issues; thus, my decision to switch to the Environmental Studies program in Urban Studies and to earn a double major.
During my journey from a 2-year college to a senior college, I have grown both personally and intellectually. I owe much of that growth to the various programs and internships I‘ve completed, and to the many great professors and advisors I had the pleasure of getting to know.