Environmental Studies at UVM

Gemma Del Rossi '18

Areas of Interest: 

ENVS major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with a concentration in Environmental Policy and Development

UVM College/School: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
ENVS Concentration: Environmental Policy and Development
Hometown: Canton, NY
E-mail: gdelross@uvm.edu

Why did you choose to come to UVM and major in ENVS?

When I was touring college campuses, I initially was reluctant to visit UVM because I wanted to go to school far, far away from the Northeastern United States. When I came to UVM’s campus, however, that all changed. It took one look at Mount Mansfield and a tour of the campus for me to see myself fitting in as a student here. I loved the strength of the Environmental Program and how it creates lots of opportunities to pursue a varied and fulfilling curricula of courses regarding the environment. It gave me freedom to learn and discover what I am truly passionate about.

I came in as an Environmental Science major in the Rubenstein School for Natural Resources. However, it took one semester of chemistry to convince me that I did not want to focus on lab sciences, but rather be out in the real world, working with people and dealing with the social side of the environment. So I switched my major to Environmental Studies. Despite that, I personally felt constrained by some of Rubenstein’s college requirements, so I switched to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). I love being in CALS because it provides me the freedom to pursue a variety of courses that interest me without getting bogged down by distribution requirements. Once I joined CALS, I took several classes within the Community Development and Applied Economics (CDAE) department and loved the aspect of community development and economics. So I declared a double major my junior year in ENVS and CDAE. I am taking courses within these majors that combine my two academic passions: the environment and how to solve these problems at the community level through policy and economics. It’s all a journey, and I have loved the process of getting to where I am today.

How are you pursuing your degree by way of high-impact learning activities?

The high-impact learning experiences I have had so far in college have really shaped how my passions have developed and where I want to take my education and future career path. I TA’d for my favorite class, CDAE 06: Principles of Community Development Economics the fall of my junior year. Also in my junior year, I was an undergraduate research assistant for a PhD candidate in the Gund Institute for the Environment researching the historical agricultural land-use changes to Vermont’s landscape. I had the opportunity to study abroad for almost two weeks in Brazil while taking a service-learning travel course, which focused on agroecology, forestry, and ecosystem services. I have conducted more research over the summer leading into my senior year which looked at federal agricultural conservation programs and farmer participation in them. And to “cap” it all off, my capstone will be writing an undergraduate thesis for ENVS and the Honors College about the cultural ecosystem services associated with forests.

What are your plans for your future beyond college, personally and professionally?

My post-collegiate plans are still fuzzy at the moment, but I ideally would like to apply for a Fulbright scholarship and do research abroad (hopefully back in Brazil!). Otherwise, I would like to travel internationally and work internationally for a while doing development work. Other interests of mine are working in the government with agricultural programs for US farmers. Eventually, I would like to go back to school and get my masters/PhD in ecological economics and either pursue a professorship or go into the “real world” as an ecological economist.