BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies (CHSS)

This degree provides students with theoretical and practical knowledge of three aspects of environmental and sustainability studies: people, prosperity, and planet.

Raquel Friedmann, 2015

Raquel Friedmann

What work are you doing now?

I am pursuing an MA in International Environmental Policy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. While in school, I am interning at an environmental education non-profit in Carmel, California, titled MEarth. My role as the classroom connect intern is to lead students through hands-on cooking and gardening lessons that increase their understanding of sustainable food systems, as well as to educate students regarding the impact their food and general consumption choices have on the environment. 

What do you like about it?

I enjoy taking our students through a cooking lesson that starts in the garden and ends with a communal meal at the table. In that process it is amazing to see the students' critical thinking skills emerge as they consider how every meal they eat has an impact on the environment. Another rewarding aspect of my work is facilitating particular activities regarding nutrition from packaged goods. In these lessons the students consider how many extraneous ingredients are in processed foods and the environmental impact of getting that product to our kitchen. I believe that through these considerations many of the students begin to make even little changes in their food choices for the betterment of themselves and the environment.

How did your degree in the college prepare you to do this work?

Taking sustainability courses, such as Sustainable World and the Sustainability Living Learning Community course, gave me the general knowledge regarding human environmental impact that I needed to be prepared for the work I am doing today. Sustainability is a very broad, interdisciplinary subject, and when I am giving lessons regarding how our choices effect the environment I am able to pull from the many topics that were covered in my studies at Mason. Many of my degree courses at Mason included an experiential learning component so that I was actually in the field learning about sustainability topics. This hands-on experience provided me many of the skills I am now using with the MEarth students in the garden and in the classroom.

What advice would you give current students about developing their careers?

In my particular situation, because I am still in graduate school, I was looking for a job that was related to my field of study and would help me start to make connections for after I finish school. In my search I considered what I enjoy doing and what I am passionate about (that is, teaching and environmental sustainability). I also am interested in working in the non-profit sector in the future. My priority was a job that is engaging and that fulfills my criteria, and I wasn't afraid to search extensively until I found the right one. I knew that this dedication would be apparent to the employer.