When I was twelve years old in my seventh grade English class, we were shown An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore’s documentary detailing the environmental issues facing the planet at the turn of the 21st century. That film was the first time in my life that I had ever heard the words “climate change” or “global warming” and the notion that the planet itself was much more fragile and susceptible to human intervention than I had ever thought possible. 

Now, it is really hard to look back at a time before I was made aware of how the planet is constantly changing physically—and as a result—altering the entire composition of our society socially, politically and environmentally. This was especially true during the extremely life-changing year of 2020. Graduating high school remotely amidst a global pandemic, demonstrated that just as the world was going through a truly transformative period, so was I, as I looked to start a new chapter in my life. 

Beginning an Environmental Science and Sustainability degree at Allegheny College during this unsettling period was able to offer some clarity: even though there were so many changes going on, the effects of climate change were still very much on the horizon. I was extremely fortunate to begin my journey at one of the top Environmental Science and Sustainability Undergraduate schools in the country. 

The opportunity to begin to look at these issues from a much more educational and hands-on approach has been certainly rewarding as I looked to figure out exactly what I wanted to do with my career, especially as I was able to apply and now work as an intern at a wonderful organization like Second Nature and see how they approach issues of climate justice and climate resilience. 

However, I have found that while learning about a vast spectrum of topics such as environmental policy, ecological economics and global consumption both as a student and as an intern is rewarding and extremely beneficial when tackling these complex issues, this has not been the most inspiring aspect of my higher education experience thus far. 

Both as a student and now with my internship at Second Nature, I have found the most inspiring way that propels me to want to make a difference is watching my professors, colleagues and leaders feel so outwardly passionate about these issues and topics that we look at every day. 

Being in one of these environments— whether in a classroom at Allegheny, with Second Nature staff or even talking with the sustainability directors at other institutions that are so immersed in the Second Nature network— I am fully able to appreciate the immense care and tireless work that so many people dedicate towards solving these complex issues that are becoming more intense each and every day. I am truly looking forward to a career in this field and hopefully, I can become one of the inspirational leaders in my work that I have the wonderful opportunity to be surrounded by each and every day. 

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