My Journey To Yale

Happy New Year everyone! Congrats to everyone who finished their applications and may be attending grad school in 2014! Many of you have asked me during our prospective student online chats and through emails why I decided to come to F&ES, how the experience was, and what it was like to do a Joint Degree.

As you may have read, I’m originally from Salem, Oregon [west coast!]. My grandparents owned a tree farm in Monmouth, Oregon and my brother and I grew up playing in the woods and in the ponds. I did my undergraduate work at the University of Oregon and graduated in 2007 with a degree in Speech, Language, and Hearing and a minor in Environmental Studies. I had originally intended to go into speech pathology, but after shadowing a few professionals in different settings I realized it was more the health aspect I enjoyed and less so the speech therapy. I wanted to take more environmental studies courses and enrolled in an Environmental Program Internship during the spring which included class time and work with the National Park Service. I got put on a team doing Environmental Education and had an amazing experience. I think what solidified my interest in this field was the people who I met working in the environment as well as my classmates. I hadn’t previously thought of the environment as a “career” option before.

The road named after my family - where my grandparents first farm was in Monmouth, Oregon.

The road named after my family – where my grandparents first farm was in Monmouth, Oregon.

After I graduated from U of O I began working at Willamette University, a small liberal arts college in Oregon. I worked on environmental safety and student services and was appointed to the Sustainability Council. Willamette is a close community, so real change took place quicker and I became close with many students and employees. I got the opportunity to watch the long-term planning of an organization and I watched WU buy a portion of a forest in West Salem, plan an organic farm on it, and go through the process of taking students out there and forming research projects. I helped create the first carbon offset program through the parking permit system and assisted with sustainability art projects and education on consumption and waste.

After a few yearsI loved my job, but I didn’t see myself there in 20 years. I knew I wanted to go back to school, and I knew I wanted to do something health and environment related. I had a few good pushes from a few great people in my life too – one of which was my now fiance’s father, and others were professors and staff at Willamette who knew my passions and my job were not exactly lining up. When I found a Master’s of Public Health with an Environmental Health concentration I thought that was perfect for me. Most public health schools go through SOPHAS (Schools of Public Health Application Service), and I applied to Yale’s largely because I had heard good things about this amazing environmental school. I didn’t actually think I would get into Yale – coming from a fairly small city in Oregon, it seemed a little outrageous. I say this because I had a really incorrect perception of this thing called Yale, and I’m sure many people share this. Either way, I really don’t think you will be disappointed in the school and all it has to offer.

For me, I was disappointed in my strict curriculum at YSPH and the lack of what I would consider “environmental” courses. My second semester I ventured up science hill (Prospect Street) and took a course at F&ES; a new class on Sustainable Development in Post-Disaster Haiti. Not only did we actually go to Haiti, but we did projects with Hospital Albert Schweitzer and met with government, corporate, and UN officials rebuilding the country through a multitude of environmental, social, racial, and religious tensions. I had certainly found my oasis. I applied immediately and that March from the rural regions of the L’artibonite valley I connected to a fleeting WiFi and there it was – a big congratulations from F&ES.

The reforestation of L'artibonite, Haiti in partnership with Hospital Albert Sweitzer

The reforestation of L’artibonite, Haiti in partnership with Hospital Albert Schweitzer

Anyone who has applied to school before might think that the story takes a leap to Fall of 2011 when I start classes. However, it doesn’t. That spring was just the beginning of my new family at F&ES. Stay tuned for the next portion of this blog: my journey at and from Yale, including many of the opportunities of the school for research, lectures, fun, faculty, and grants.

In the meantime feel to email me with an questions – Admissions or otherwise.