For my ES 190: Environmental Careers course, I had to write an essay on my current career goals and aspirations and what inspired these decisions. After hearing "Why are you majoring in Environmental Science?" and "What are you going to do with that?" so many times, I've decided to just post my answer to the prompt on this blog. I love what I do and can't wait to do more of it.
One’s identity is a collection of one’s background, morals, experiences, and aspirations. Growing up in Oakland, California has really defined and shaped the person I am today. Typically, people perceive Oakland as a hot spot for crime, danger, and poverty. While these odds may be true, Oakland is much more than what is shown on television screens and newspaper headlines. Oakland remains to be one of the most culturally diverse communities in the nation. More importantly, Oakland provided a foundation for my personal and career goals.
I have spent the majority of my time in my neighborhood and in local public areas. Whether I am walking to the local farmer’s market or hiking around Joaquin Miller Park, I always find comfort in this vibrant community that I consider an extension of my home. Upon entering high school in Alameda, California, I became more interested in the importance of the environment and natural world. While reading the works of Transcendentalist authors like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau in my English class, I was immediately drawn to the beauty of life and serenity one can achieve by immersing themselves in nature. After taking AP Environmental Science, my perception of the world had changed entirely. The impact our society has created on our natural world is detrimental to the health of our entire planet. I wanted to apply the material I learned into real life in an effort to preserve earth’s natural resources and beauty. Changing my own lifestyle wasn’t the only thing I wanted to accomplish; I wanted to change my school and my community. During this time, I volunteered for various organizations, such as St. Vincent De Paul and the Oakland Catholic Worker and led the Environmental Awareness Club in my High School. It was after volunteering when I realized that doing good things for others with absolute genuineness and sincerity is one of the most rewarding and worthwhile feelings a person can ever experience. Looking back on my experiences, I knew I wanted to do something that would help people and the physical world as a career. I love working with people, formulating ideas, planning events and communicating with different people.
As a product of my experiences, I take greater notice of the drawbacks prevalent in my community. In addition to global and national environmental problems like global warming, drought, overpopulation and consumption of natural resources, I also take into account the importance of public health and well-being. Polluted streets and waters systems, run-down buildings and outdated facilities that run on unsustainable (wasteful) energy were some of the many things I wanted to change. Developing a sustainable city that would foster a happier and healthier community by changing our transportation systems or restoring natural area were ideas I wanted to turn into realities. By changing some of these drawbacks, Oakland had the potential of becoming a sustainable, modern and lively community. These endless ideas and visions serve as a foundation for my zeal and fervor to help both the people in my community and the environment.
Now that I am preparing myself for my future career, I realize that the opportunity for me to help communities socially and environmentally is available to me through UCSB. Currently, I’m a BA Environmental Studies Major and Professional Writing Minor interested in emphasizing in urban and regional planning or air, soil and water quality management. This emphasis is interdisciplinary and requires in-depth knowledge not only in environmental science but also in economics, policy, and geography. After my undergraduate career, I hope to get my masters in Urban Planning at a California university such as UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Irvine, USC, Cal Poly, or San Diego State University (A boy can dream). So far, I’ve been maintaining an above average GPA in my prerequisites for my major while simultaneously taking classes that are both interesting and relate to what I want to focus in. For example, I’m currently taking Architecture and the Environment, an area F general education requirement. I feel that this class will expand my knowledge on architecture and sustainability, a minor but fundamental component in urban and regional planning. I am also taking an upper division Environmental Studies lab course in green building, where I will gain hands-on experience in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. I’m also planning on taking GIS courses to gain spatial and geographical knowledge. I feel as though these courses contribute to my emphasis and interests in Urban and City Planning. In addition to classes, I am also working with UCSB’s Your Children’s Trees as an Urban Forestry Restoration Intern and volunteer as a Cultural Mentor in the Living Learning Communities for Housing and Residential Services. These positions allow me to gain more experience in communication and project management necessary for other jobs and internships to come. At the same time, I get to help the environment and people. Someday, I hope to return to the Bay Area and utilize all of my experience and knowledge to incorporate sustainable practices in cities like San Francisco and Oakland.
Aside from my professional aspirations, my personal love for writing, travel and culture has prompted my dream of backpacking around the world, living amongst other cultures and helping others along the way. I’m planning on studying abroad sometime my junior and senior year. I hope to continue developing my writing not only to possess a critical skill in the job market, but also to document my personal journey, other cultures and my living environment and share it with the world. In a way, my career goals have become intertwined with my personal goals. I aspire to take on the mission of being a humanitarian; a moral I uphold as a product of my experiences in learning about history, living in my community and forming relationships with different people. I am who I am for reasons beyond talents and interests. I am pieces of my culture, my community and my world, which I have come to learn and grow from.