Tabitha Sookdeo

Non-Traditional in Almost Every Sense

Tabitha Sookdeo — ’25 MEM (she/her)
 “As a low-income Black Caribbean woman, an immigrant, and a formerly undocumented person, I’m a non-traditional student in almost every sense. I’m also nearly a mid-career professional because I’ve had to delay my education several times, so I could work to support my parents and my brothers. I’m very passionate about both environmentalism and immigration, and want to study law as it applies to both areas, so I can create protections for people like my family who will suffer the most direct and dire impacts of climate change.”

Hometown: Guyana and Sint Maarten in the Dutch Caribbean 
Fellowship host: Clean Water Action 
Next step: Moving to Vermont to attend Vermont Law School as part of the joint degree program combining a master’s degree in environmental management with a JD (law degree).

Key takeaway from the Environmental Fellows Program: “Even though I’m focusing on water issues in different regions, I find myself constantly tracing things back to the source. The destructiveness of colonialism has caused so many of today’s environmental burdens for disenfranchised communities of color, so I find myself thinking a lot about how I can contribute to anti-colonialism through policy and through law.”

“Water is, of course, the focus of my fellowship with Clean Water Action. I have been working to advance proactive water solutions at the local, state, and federal levels, including some exciting “green infrastructure” solutions to reduce runoff pollution, getting lead out of contact with people’s drinking water and protecting drinking water sources. It’s very satisfying to be part of improving something as fundamental to people’s lives as water.

“I found so much support and a sense of belonging at YSE. I’ve never been in a cohort with so many other people of color who are as passionate about the environment and social justice as I am. As I leave New Haven, I’m thinking about my long-term goals including some day working in the United Nations on climate adaptation and reparation issues. I do get angry and sad when I think about the ramifications of climate change for future generations, but what drives me every day are the values I believe in of accountability, reconciliation, and ensuring basic human rights for all people.”

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