“I came to UCF mostly because my sister went here, but I quickly fell in love with it. I found my own passion of environmental science here. Right now, I’m looking at the relationship between climate change and forests, the social aspects of forestry and climate change and the social roots of climate change. That’s something I’m very passionate about. I think it’s very important, especially now in our current world and political climate, to be civically engaged and to talk about these things. It’s important to be involved and to talk to policy makers to make science informed policy.
I’m applying for summer positions with the national park service. But because of the hiring freeze, half of the positions I wanted to apply for no longer exist. It’s a big struggle for people in my field who want to go into the federal government; they’re worried positions won’t exist by the time we’re out of college. That’s something I’m going to fight for.
Last summer, I went on the South Africa study abroad trip with the honors college. The thing that surprised me the most is that I thought I would be drawn to the conservation and environmental aspects of the trip but I think what drew me in the most was the people. I surprised myself in that way. There was a humanitarian side to me that I got more in touch with over the course of the trip. I think it’s a huge experience for personal growth and to figure out more about yourself, to discover what you’re passionate about and to push the boundaries of your comfort zone. I did a lot of things that I never thought I could do. It gave me a new perspective on privilege, poverty and how much people can overcome. The villagers lived in small huts but they were happy. They were so accepting of people who wanted to learn more about their culture. I think a lot of people could learn more about acceptance there and accepting people of different cultures.”