Madison Cilk ’20 has been accepted to Sciences Po in Paris, France, for a master's program in urban environmental governance beginning in August 2021.

Cilk came to UVM intent on studying ecological agriculture. She soon switched her major to environmental studies and added an additional degree in political science.

"I realized that in order to implement sustainable change, you need to understand policy and communicate well with people," she said. "The interdisciplinary nature of the environmental studies and political science programs enabled me to do just that."

Cilk hails from Naples, Florida, a coastal city on the Gulf Coast that is already experiencing the effects of climate change. She recently wrote an op-ed article for her local daily The News Press observing that sea level rise is expected to rise approximately five inches in Southwest Florida by 2030.

“Our city needs to take action to educate its citizens about the looming threat of climate change and how city officials are developing adaptation and mitigation strategies,” she wrote.

As a UVM student, she‘s had a chance to explore the issue of climate change from the New England perspective.

She recalls visiting UVM during an admitted student visit day and immediately felt at home. “I definitely sensed a strong feeling of community between faculty and students—that’s the type of atmosphere where I really thrive.”

Cilk says she appreciates the opportunity to gain research experience and multiple internships at UVM. With funding from UVM’s Honors College she spent a summer as an intern for the Marine Stewardship Council in London.

Among her most influential faculty mentors was Professor of Political Science Robert Bartlett, who specializes in environmental policy and politics. "Being in his class really inspired me to challenge current systems of governance," Cilk said. "By encouraging me to push my academic boundaries, I have gained a sense of confidence and curiosity that extends beyond the boundaries of the classroom."