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Alumnae/i Responses

To find out where ENST majors head after graduation, read the descriptions below of what they are doing now and how their Vassar education helps them in their current positions. To contact any of these alums, you can message them through the environmental studies discussion board, search them on the AAVC website, or call the Environmental Studies Office at 845-437-5430.

Lauren Charney

Class of 2002, Focus in Biology and Geography
Lawyer for EPA in NYC

I am a lawyer for EPA Region 2 Office of Regional Counsel, New York and Caribbean Superfund Branch. My first job out of college was as a paralegal for small law firm in Washington DC. As an environmental lawyer, it is important to have an understanding of scientific aspects of my cases. The multidisciplinary nature of the ENST major prepared me to consider several facets (social, geographical, political, scientific) of any environmental issue.

My advice for majors is to have a plan in mind as to what you want to do post-graduation.  In addition, keep in mind that networking is an essential aspect of getting the jobs you want.  Don't be shy about contacting Vassar alums or anyone you feel may be able to help you on your career path.  We've all been there.  In my job searches, I have come into contact with some great people who, although they may not have known of a specific job opening, were helpful in reviewing my resume or giving me advice.

While at Vassar, you have many great opportunities to intern for credit.  Take advantage of this and have as many internships/field work experiences as you can.  You never know what other opportunities it may lead to and you'll make connections for your post-Vassar life.  At the very least you may figure out what you don't want to do.

Ariel Dekovic

Class of 2002, Focus in English and Geography
Communications Director for the Collaborative for High Performance Schools in San Francisco

My first job out of college was as the office and Communications Manager for the Charles River Watershed Association.  I am currently the Communications Director for the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (an organization that helps schools build green). The two main parts of my job are writing and program management. Vassar certainly helped me to develop my writing skills.  As far as the program management, I think the liberal arts experience helps me to think critically through situations and decision-making. 

My advice for majors is to embrace science.  If you are interested in non-profit work, it also helps to have a skill or two on top of the interest and passion.  For example, take a GIS class or learn the Adobe Creative Suite or HTML.  Nonprofiteers have to wear many hats and if you have skills in any of these programs, you make yourself much more attractive as a job candidate.

Leah Schinasi

Class of 2003, Focus in Biology and Philosophy
PhD student studying environmental epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health

After graduation I worked as a research tech in a biology lab. I then served a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer working as the healthy homes outreach worker for a very small non-profit organization in North Carolina.

My environmental studies major and courses inspired me to pursue graduate studies in environmental epidemiology. More than anything, I think that my experiences at Vassar helped me to consider the big picture. I also think that my studies at Vassar enhanced my writing and reading skills.

My advice is to try to get lots of hands-on and varied experiences. If you're interested in a research career, make the most of the resources that are available to you at Vassar: expert faculty, great library, and great opportunities for research. Remember that studying "environmental studies" doesn't mean that you have to focus on traditional environmental issues - human health and the environment are intrinsically linked.

Rachael Teel

Class of 2003, Focus in Anthropology and Geology
Graduate School - Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in New Haven, CT

My first job was as an intern for the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. I think the flexibility of the major was one of the best things about the major. I was able to combine my academic interests (anthropology/environmental studies) with career interests in media studies in my fieldwork and my thesis, which eventually led to a job with PBS's Nature series.

My words of advice are to take the classes that really interest you! Any experience is good experience, and if it's something you're really passionate about, the things you learn will almost certainly come in handy later in life.

Ashley Camhi

Class of 2004, Focus in Economics and Geology
Finishing up a masters in International Environmental Policy in Monterey, California

My first job out of college was as a Peace Corps Agroforestry Volunteer in Paraguay.  I will soon be doing a fellowship at the World Bank in Washington DC.  I found that the environmental studies program gives a good backbone of environmental philosophy and policy to start a career in the field. My words of advice for majors are to really think about where you want to focus, whether it is a particular type of natural resource (forest, water, etc.) or a particular sector and try to focus your knowledge on that.  

Lauren Gloster

Class of 2004, Focus in Geology, Anthropology and Renewable Energy
Senior LEED Consultant in Atlanta, GA

For my first job, I worked at Eco-Cycle in Boulder, CO.  I worked with businesses in Boulder and its surrounding counties to eliminate their waste stream to the landfill and provide them with the resources to recycle and compost any and all waste produced.

Through the environmental studies program at Vassar, I became much better versed at the complex and interconnected issues associated with "the environment". Issues of environmental justice were my main interest, focusing on the socio-economic issues associated with the environment. As humans spend 90% of their time indoors, green building is an effective way to bring increased environmental quality to its occupants.

My advice for majors is to make sure that you do all that you can to ensure that the Presidential Administration enacts critical legislation to support environmental initiatives. In 2000, when I declared ENST as my major, a number of family members and friends outside of Vassar questioned what I could do with such a major. Now, in 2008, an Environmental Studies major is a no-brainer. As companies continue to lay people off in the current economic downturn, the green building firm that I work for continues to grow and hire people with relevant sustainable experience.

Katie Ghilain

Class of 2006, Focus in Environmental Policy and Law
Environmental/Litigation Associate in NYC

I am in my last year of law school at New York University.  After taking the bar this summer, I will be working as an environmental/litigation associate at a law firm. I started law school right after college.  During my first summer during law school, I worked as a Hudson River Legal Team Intern at an environmental nonprofit organization called Riverkeeper in Tarrytown, NY.  During my second summer, I worked as a summer associate at Arnold & Porter, where I will work full-time after graduation.  

The skills that I learned at Vassar, from critical analysis to research and writing, have already helped immensely in law school and in my summer jobs.  Vassar provided me with a background in a variety of environmental issues that I am now learning to address from a legal perspective.  In addition, the extensive research and writing that I did for my senior thesis has proven very useful in several of my law school classes, and it gave me a great starting place for a paper that will be published as a note in the New York University Environmental Law Journal this year.

I believe that in order to effectively address environmental issues, they must be understood from a variety of perspectives; in other words, they require a multidisciplinary approach.  The Environmental Studies major at Vassar provides a great opportunity to experience the value of this type of approach.  I loved having the freedom to select the classes that best suited my interests and that would prepare me for the type of legal work I am now pursuing.  

Ellie Leonard

Class of 2006, Focus in Geography and Biology/Geology
Graduate School - Master of Environmental Studies program at Brown University in Providence, RI

After college I worked for the Student Conservation Association teaching Environmental Education to school groups along the Hudson River.  After this position, I began work at Ecosystems Strategies, Inc., an environmental consulting firm located in Poughkeepsie.  I am currently in a Master's of Environmental Studies program at Brown University, with a focus on environmental justice and policy.

Vassar's ENST program gave me a well-rounded environmental education to prepare me for several situations.  I feel versed in a myriad of subjects, and have both the scientific and liberal arts background to feel confident in different types or work or academic settings.  Environmental Studies is a particularly smart field to be entering now, as well!

Lydia Sisson

Class of 2006, Focus in Policies of Globalization and Development in Latin America and Biology
Farmer in Lowell, MA

My first job out of college was working as the Sustainable Food Fellow at the United Teen Equality Center in Lowell, MA.  I worked with youth in a farming and culinary program.

I worked at the Poughkeepsie Farm Project during my time at Vassar and that has been very helpful.  I also was given a lot of liberty to study what interested me, although I don't think I could have prepared for my occupation solely at Vassar, I was exposed to many of the ideas that have encouraged me to choose this path.

My advice to current majors is to do as many internships, work-study, and volunteer opportunities as you can.  By exposing yourself to many areas you will have more of an idea of what you want to do.