Why did you choose your degree program/major?
After taking an environmental science course and volunteering at the San Diego Zoo in high school, I looked into Oregon State to pursue my interests in conservation and environmental education. Once I got here, I learned about the field of natural resources, and discovered that the College of Forestry offered a specialization in conservation law enforcement. I’d always had an interest in the law enforcement field, so that was really intriguing to me. I had assumed that I’d have to get an environmental science degree, and then figure out how to get into law enforcement from there, and I never realized that I could learn about all of those things in one degree. Although I kind of stumbled into it, my degree and my work experience have helped me realize my passions for outdoor recreation management, environmental interpretation, and conservation, as well as my goal to support opportunities for people to learn and safely recreate together in the outdoors.
What’s the best experience you’ve had as a student?
I’ve been able to take some amazing courses and do some things that I’d never imagined I would do in a class, like spend hours every week birdwatching (Field Sampling of Fish and Wildlife), complete an investigation into illegal hunting, from crime scene to final report (Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement), dye my hair for a research project (Nonverbal Communication), and draft new policies (Law, Crime, and Policy). I’ve truly enjoyed so many of my classes at OSU, but those are some of my favorite memories.
Have you participated in any experiential learning opportunities? How has this impacted your student experience?
I’ve had the opportunity to participate in a few different seasonal jobs and internships during my time at OSU, but these are my most recent and my favorites. The summer before my senior year, I worked as a park guide at the Missouri National Recreational River in South Dakota. Working for the National Park Service was such an exciting and incredible experience. I got to learn a lot of new skills, and had a lot of amazing adventures on my own while I was there and as I drove home at the end of the summer. Additionally, during my final term, I completed a Birds of Prey Internship with the Chintimini Wildlife Center. The internship was so much fun because I was able to continue developing my skills in environmental interpretation while learning about animal care, which was completely new to me. I love raptors and birds of prey, and now I have pictures of myself with an owl on my arm, which feels like the pinnacle of my college career and life. These experiences allowed me to build on skills and knowledge that I learned in class, and challenged me to develop professional skills that I can take with me into new experiences.
What’s one thing (or piece of advice) that you would like incoming OSU students to know?
You’re going to do great! Personally, I struggled a lot with comparison and feeling like I always needed to compete with my peers. But we all have unique experiences, interests, and skills – including you! You are absolutely smart enough and capable enough, and you have things that only you can bring – so bring it. Keep trying, keep looking for new ways to do things, and relentlessly pursue what brings you joy and what fulfills you as a person. Don’t be anyone else, be you. Also, get off campus once in a while! Volunteering on trail building days in the research forest and at the Grace Center for Adult Day Services kept me sane and helped me gain some perspective.
What are your go-to snacks?
I really love hummus and will eat it with anything. Dried mango with chili, Sour Patch Kids, and pretty much anything from Trader Joe’s are always solid snacks as well.
Anything else would you like to share?
You’re going to learn so much and grow in ways that you can’t imagine. Try to stay present for all of it, and reach out for help if you need it. I’ve taken advantage of a lot of resources at OSU, and the knowledge I have gained from those experiences is that there are so many people here who want you to be safe, well, and successful. Also, speaking as someone from southern California, never miss an opportunity to go outside and photosynthesize when it’s sunny. And light therapy lamps do work, so take advantage of those as well.