Environmental Studies at UVM

Meg Desmond '19

Areas of Interest: 

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

UVM College/School: College of Arts and Sciences
ENVS Concentration: Environmental Policy and Development
Hometown: Braintree, MA
E-mail: medesmon@uvm.edu

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

Interestingly enough, I declared early on in my college search process that I would never attend UVM. I had no logical reason for my dislike for the school but it prevented me from touring until March of my senior year of high school. I knew that I wanted to major in Environmental Studies after spending an impactful month in the backcountry of Wyoming during the summer of 2014. Connecting with the natural environment in such an intimate way made me realize that I needed to pursue this field of study that I had always considered a hobby. When I finally stepped foot on campus and began to meet the faculty and explore the Environmental Program, I was amazed. An incredible aspect of Vermont and UVM is that a passion for environmentalism is commonplace across campus and Burlington. You can find classes under countless different disciplines that relate to the environment in some capacity. Sitting in the Bittersweet House, listening to peer mentors (of which I now am one) discuss their experiences and the depth of their studies inspired and motivated me to choose UVM.

In addition to these tangible reasons, there was an ineffable but definite connection to the UVM campus and the community here. Meeting my peers during tours and even on the Class of 2019 Facebook page, I quickly came to realize that I had found my people. Three years later and I haven’t looked back. I have absolutely found a strong, supportive community of friends, peers, and faculty at UVM.

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

Something I will say of UVM is that opportunities for high impact learning experiences present themselves frequently and it is entirely dependent on whether you as an individual will be bold enough to take them. Only a few weeks into my freshmen year, a guest lecturer visited my ENVS001 Introduction to Environmental Studies course to discuss his winter break course, “The Politics of Land Use in Ecuador.” Three months later I was flying to Ecuador to study the political and environmental ramifications of the copper mining concessions in the Intag region. This high impact learning experience not only allowed me to travel through breathtaking microclimates rich in biodiversity, but also opened my eyes to the world of international development.

This past summer I worked for the Vermont Public Interest Research Group which was influential in critical components of both my personal and academic growth. Having daily in-depth discussions regarding environmental policy and political systems with people from every walk of life allowed me to appreciate new perspectives and connect with wonderful individuals. I also had the opportunity to work as a community outreach intern for AARP VT furthering my exploration into sustainable community development.

On campus I am currently an Outing Club leader, an ENVS peer mentor, and I lead a women’s Bible study through the Christian ministry Chi Alpha.

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

I always say that it is important to keep goals specific enough for tangible progress while keeping them open enough to allow for personal growth or new interests. Therefore, in terms of the future, I currently plan to work for an environmental or socially conscious NGO or non-profit after graduation. After a few years I would like to attend graduate school to further my exploration into sustainable international development with an end goal of working for USAID.

I would like to work abroad, learning to integrate development practices into existing cultures and belief systems so that communities can be invested in their own success and work to grow sustainably without having to sacrifice traditions or be forced to conform to Western ideals and expectations.