“The Sheboygan study finished up just before I graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I studied economics and environmental geology there, and I knew I wanted to continue my studies in the environmental field. I was encouraged by Caitie and a few others I looked up to to look into graduate school. That fall, I began a master of urban planning and policy program at the University of Illinois Chicago, where I continued to learn about how humans interact with our environment and how to think holistically about the decisions we make.
My specialization was in environmental planning. I took some great courses, like an economic and environmental planning course and a course on residential sustainability policy. My final project centered on greywater reuse in a south suburb of Chicago.
I graduated this past May and am now the environmental and sustainability coordinator for a bread manufacturing company. I started just a few weeks ago. I am responsible for both environmental compliance (permits, etc.) and sustainability projects and initiatives. My main task so far has been re-developing an environmental management system for the entire company, which has four different facilities.
My experiences working with Caitie at IISG was the best preparation I could have had for both graduate school and my current job. I was able to participate in almost all aspects of the Sheboygan study. I helped with interviewing stakeholders, performed data analysis, and co-authored the final report with Caitie. You don’t often get this kind of hands-on experience with qualitative analysis and reporting in school.
I also learned a lot about environmental regulations since the project I worked on was under EPA’s Great Lakes Legacy Act. Understanding the regulatory structure helped tremendously while I was in the urban planning program (reading codes) and continues to help me navigate compliance issues at my company. Overall, the time I spent at IISG was one of my most valuable internships, and I am extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to work at such a fantastic organization.”