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Certified Fresh

Anuraag Jhawar
Hometown: San Marcos, California in North County San Diego

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Tell us about your educational experience.

Despite having taken AP Environmental Science in high school and really enjoying it, I came into UCLA as an undeclared Life Sciences major, with the intention of majoring in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics or Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology. By winter of my second year I had begun to stray away from those subjects and was learning a lot more about many of the problems plaguing our society, for example, peak oil and anthropogenic sources of greenhouse gases. I was also learning about the promise of clean energy: biofuels, solar power, and a hydrogen economy. After stopping by the IoES, Student Affairs Officer Royce recommended I enroll in Earth & Space Sciences 101: Earth's Energy. That class sold me on environmental science and I shortly declared the major, with Environmental Engineering as my minor. During my educational career I've done my best to focus my studies as much as possible on sustainability and energy, taking classes such as Life Cycle Analysis, Environmental Economics, and Sustainable Architecture & Urban Development—my favorite class where we created a proposal to revamp Mother's Beach in Marina del Rey as an environmentally conscious shopping district as our final project. I worked with Professor Delmas for my Practicum in Environmental Science project, assessing consumer responses to green practices in hotels for Disney.

Do you feel this degree program has aptly prepared you for a career in the field of environment and sustainability?

I think the Environmental Science major is one of the strongest of its kind. The degree requirements are very broad and cover the range of topics that comprise environmental science, while also allowing enough variety to focus your studies on a specific aspect if you so choose. I've held many internships as a result of Royce's newsletter and my employers were all very impressed by the program. I think the Practicum is excellent at providing real world experience.

Extracurricular activities and hobbies?

In addition to my studies I am a founding member of the UCLA Environmental Science Student Network and served as Vice President this year. I was also an active member of B Green Consulting on campus, helping to put on a Green Jobs Fair and Green Solutions Business Plan competition. Additionally, I worked as a marketing director with the Campus Events Commission of UCLA's Undergraduate Students Association. I helped advertise environmental events such as a speaking engagement with Darryl Hannah and Julia Butterfly, as well as an annual pre-screening of Disneynature's Earth Day films (Earth, Oceans, African Cats, and Chimpanzee). For the last few months I have been interning at SHFT.com, a sustainable media platform co-founded by actor Adrian Grenier—an internship I found through the IoES listserv.

Post-graduation plans?

Following graduation I'm hoping to work full-time for a year or so before returning to school to pursue an advanced degree.

In yearbook listings graduating seniors often submit a personal quote. What's yours?

"It only ends once. Everything else is just progress."

Dennis Mabasa
Hometown: Born in Manila, Philippines but grew up in North Hills California

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Tell us about your educational experience.

In terms of a summary of my educational experience, every year has been so different— it’s hard to give a brief summary of it all. In general though, I could definitely say that almost everything that I have learned (in class and out), has taught me about myself, and what I see as valuable in my life. I have learned a lot about what I care about and what makes me happy.

How did I choose the major? I actually decided after volunteering on an organic coffee farm for two months in Costa Rica. I figured that I wanted to find a major that would maximize my time in places like that. It seems to have worked well. With my major I've been able to backpack the sierras, help teach Ghanaian and Togolese cocoa farmers sustainable agriculture practices, and research water quality while scuba diving in Palawan, Philippines. I also spent almost every weekend for the past two months hiking the Santa Monica Mountains to collect data for my Practicum project.

Do you feel this degree program has aptly prepared you for a career in the field of environment and sustainability?

Yes. The variety of classes and faculty has really opened up my eyes to what options are out there and who I could be working with. The Practicum has been especially valuable. Not many majors give students the opportunity to work with real world problems like the ones we are trying to fix. The amount of time that I have spent with my group members and adviser have taught me a lot about how to effectively work with other people, communicate, and listen to important thoughts and ideas. 

Extracurricular activities and hobbies?

For the past three years I've been an outdoor guide with UCLA Recreation. When I'm not in class, I’m probably planning a trip or going on a trip.  It’s a really cool opportunity to share my love of the outdoors with people that don't usually have the knowledge or means to do this kind of stuff. Some of my favorite trips have been backpacking Yosemite, canoeing the Colorado River, exploring Zion National Park, and camping in the Grand Canyon. I could definitely say that it is the best student job on campus.

Post-graduation plans?

I am pretty proud to say yes! Immediately after graduation I'm going to be working as a backpacking guide for underrepresented and at-risk youth in Portland, Humboldt, and North Carolina (with a company called Adventure Treks). I'll probably guide for a bit, and then make my way back to the Philippines to work on my Dive Master certification.

In yearbook listings graduating seniors often submit a personal quote. What's yours?

"You finally get to see me graduate papa!"

Jason Miller
Hometown: Alameda, California

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Tell us about your educational experience.

My educational experience within IoES is a little different than most students because I am a transfer student.  I originally attended Boston College studying biology, but after two years decided that I wanted to pursue environmental science at UCLA.  I found myself naturally drawn to ecological and environmental processes and felt a connection to all of the interdisciplinary classes.  In fact, the aspect that I like most about the major is the fact that there are so many classes offered across so many departments that all work together to provide a holistic perspective.  My favorite classes were Environmental Economics, Sustainable Architecture & Urban Development, Leadership in Water Management, and Business and the Natural Environment.

Do you feel this degree program has aptly prepared you for a career in the field of environment and sustainability?

Thanks to all of the great classes and professors here at UCLA, I definitely feel prepared for a career in environment and sustainability.  Whether I end up working in sustainable urban planning, ecological conservation, or environmental law, I am excited to apply all of the knowledge that I have gained over the last four years and find the career that fits me best. 

Extracurricular activities and hobbies?

I am an avid snowboarder, and actually served on staff for UCLA’s first-ever Ski and Snowboard Club the last two years.  We frequently organize trips to mountains in the winter time such as Mammoth, June, Lake Tahoe, and even Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  It has been amazing to see the club grow over the last two years and to see so many people coming on trips and trying out skiing or snowboarding for the first time. 

Post-graduation plans?

Right now, my post-graduation plans are to work in environmental consulting for a couple years and really immerse myself in a variety of projects.  I want to be able to get my hands dirty and gain valuable professional experience within the field, all in an effort to help me decide what I am truly passionate about.  Then, my hopes are to take this experience to graduate school and pursue an advanced degree where I can truly hone in on my passion.

In yearbook listings graduating seniors often submit a personal quote. What's yours?

In the words of the late John Wooden: "Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts."

Oranges image credit: Flickr, Kyle McDonald