Focus at YSE
People, equity, and the environment; Urban
Knowing Where to Look
In her first semester of college, Julia Talamo’s (’23 MEM) career advisor asked her to draw a map illustrating what the next five years would look like. What classes would she take? What experiences would she pursue? Where did she hope to be after graduation?
“In that fifth year, even from my very first semester, I knew that I wanted to be at the Yale School of the Environment,” Talamo says. The question, then, was how to get there.
“My parents barely speak English; they don’t know how to navigate the educational system in this country, and so I was looking for programs that could give me the support that my parents wanted to provide but never could.”
Doris Duke proved a perfect match. It offered networking events and writing workshops; it provided free GRE classes along with time and funding for research projects and internships; it presented a community of examples — people who took part in the program and themselves went on to succeed in graduate school.
As much as Talamo sought out and found Doris Duke, though, she notes that Doris Duke found her. “A lot of programs say that they don’t know where to find or recruit students of color, but Doris Duke, and Dr. Taylor in particular, do a wonderful job reaching out to underrepresented students.” She recalls a bouquet of flowers arriving at the Center for the Environment at Mount Holyoke College, where Talamo was an undergraduate. It was from Dr. Taylor, and it included a note asking after students who might be good for the program. “You can only find people if you know where to look, and Dr. Taylor knows where to look.”
Now in her first year at YSE, Talamo stayed true to her five-year map. One reason she applied to YSE was because it offers one full-tuition scholarship to an alumni of the Posse Foundation each year; Talamo was a Posse Scholar in college. “The fact that YSE recognizes that program speaks to the kind of environment the school wants to create,” she says. The other reason was the school’s recent turn toward issues of environmental justice: “Students have been fighting for this focus the last several years, and I wanted to be part of the classes and specializations that these students have worked so hard to create.”