The MENV Graduate Program is committed to the success of our entire community. The commitment to our students doesn’t end when they graduate. The MENV Career Development team will continue to engage with alumni to ensure their professional success and to keep them connected to the MENV community.
Emily Bamford, Class of 2019
I previously worked for UNICEF as a water specialist for 10 years, which took me all over the world. I've also worked for Greenpeace and other non-profits. I have a BSc in biology and environmental science.
I'm about to start working for NOAA as its Tribal Drought Coordinator. I'll be based in Boulder and I'll be responsible for coordinating all drought-related tribal engagement projects across the U.S. It's my dream job, and I can't wait to get started.
The program really helped me discover new passions, ones that I'd not had chance to explore previously. From solar energy to GIS to climate justice, I've learnt so much over the past 18 months. The program also helped introduce us (students) to so many different professionals and organizations. It helped me figure out exactly what I wanted to do next - and ultimately helped me land my dream job with NOAA.
Try and enjoy yourself and don't get too caught up in all the academics. Explore the other non-academic opportunities that the program offers and make the most of them.
I lived in Africa for six years!
Caitlin Yong, Class of 2018
I became an Environmentalist quite early in my childhood since I grew up camping, snowboarding, and skateboarding all over California and Utah. You could say my family was rather outdoorsy compared to the average Southern California family. From there I always knew I wanted to work one way or another to help appease the human impact on the environment.
I went to Purdue University for a Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences Bachelor’s Degree and started the Purdue University Longboarding Club. After my undergraduate studies, I traveled and raced around the world as a Professional Downhill Skateboarder. Once I realized I could not race skateboards down steep mountain roads forever, I started working as a Technical Writer at a Global Dental Laboratory in their Auditing Department. I learned to embrace and rather enjoy standard operating procedures (SOPs) and documentation management. After realizing my calling was to work for the government to help reduce negative environmental impacts, I set off to pursue a Master’s Degree in Environmental Policy at the University of Colorado Boulder. And that is where I landed at MENV!
I work at Muller Engineering Company in Lakewood, Colorado as their Traffic - Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Design Engineer/ Connected Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) Specialist. I design transportation technology systems that will be implemented all over Colorado and other states that help make the transportation system more safe and efficient. Previously, I worked at the City and County of Denver as their Smart City Senior Engineering Associate/ Connected Vehicle Technical Lead helping implement Connected Vehicle Technology on the streets of Denver through their $12M Advanced Transportation Congestion Management Technology Deployment (ATCMTD) grant with the Program Manager at the time, Matthew McAllister (who previously directly worked under the Chief Technology Officer under the Obama Administration) and Project Manager at the time, Janell Schafer (all-time extraordinary human being). From my opportunity with the City and County of Denver, my previous Technical Writing work experience, and MENV capstone experience, led me to my current role as a Traffic-ITS Design Engineer/ CAV Specialist.
The MENV program helped me develop my professional career by connecting me to industry professionals all over the state and the program’s capstone project gave me the opportunity to have hands-on and industry-related work which was necessary to make a career change. Prior to MENV, I was searching for the graduate program that fit my aspirations and goals; my main objective was to get a rewarding and impactful career. I ended up choosing MENV because the program is a professional master's degree. I firmly believe that just having a master’s degree on your resume will not get you the dream job; the real-world experience and hard work along with the master’s degree lead you to the career you have only dreamt about.
I would tell new MENV students to get ready to work hard for your dream job. Start now and not later with starting to connect to industry professionals and constantly learn from your network. Just message someone with your dream job title on LinkedIn and ask for a virtual coffee (in-person coffee after the COVID-19 crisis) to talk about their career path and to get any career advice. I even do this nowadays to keep learning and growing in my career. Remember, your network is your greatest asset.
Something people may not know about me is that I would rather have a relaxing day at the Denver Botanic Gardens than go do a death-defying sport these days. When I was at the peak of my downhill skateboarding career, I did not think I would make it past 27 years old. An important friend, Eric Pederson taught me to fulfill my greatest potential by working my hardest to make a positive impact on society. So, yes I do really love my job and spend most of my energy trying to benefit society in any way possible now.
Maia Reed, Class of 2018
I went to McGill University for undergrad, where I majored in international development studies. Towards the end of undergrad I became very interested in food security and went on to work with the affirmative farming program in Washington DC. I was becoming increasingly interested in the nexus of environmental sustainability and food and ag issues but didn’t want to stay in DC. I went on to work for food and ag think tank in Chicago, ran a food recovery program, and was on board of Slow Food Chicago while also working for a farm to table wedding caterer to get as involved as possible in the food community in Chicago. I also spent three years working for a nonprofit urban farm in the southside of Chicago. I created an amazing community there but realized that my impact wasn’t reaching farther than the community I was living in and I wanted to change that. I wanted to get back to what brought me to food, to expand my horizons to what would make the biggest impact in changing food systems and I realized that that meant getting involved with the private sector because right now that is where change is happening.
I am a consultant with Anthesis Group which is a global sustainability consulting firm based in the UK with headquarters here in Boulder. In my role I do many different things, but I do a lot to help drive corporate sustainability. We’ve just rebranded ourselves as sustainability activators because we’re not only helping companies understand the sustainability landscape but we’re actually helping to incite action and drive continued follow up action so that companies can really address things like their footprint and the circularity of their products and waste streams because it needs to be done yesterday not tomorrow. I learned about my job through two of my current coworkers who came to speak to my sustainable topics in business class at LEEDS. I realized they were right on Pearl Street and were doing all of this cool stuff, and I realized I want to work with them so I applied for a position when I graduated. I learn something new every single day which is pretty great!
I have two favorite courses! One was Topics in Sustainable Business over in the LEEDS Business School. It was great because we learned how businesses were talking about sustainability and it really helped me put my finger on the pulse of what is trending right now and what people are talking about in boardrooms, what kind of sustainability argument is getting through to corporates and how could I start to see sustainability through the lens that these companies are seeing it through in an effort to be able to get more companies on board with environmental sustainability. My favorite class in MENV was Food Systems Solutions with Pete Newton. It was a great way to get to know my classmates and provided a survey of current food systems topics and opened up really great discussions, it was a great segway into what graduate education looks like versus undergraduate education. It was really engaging and I learned how to make an argument that gets through to people that might not see eye to eye with you on tough topics.
I know it’s been said before, but I’ll say it again. Use your resources, go out of your way to get to know your professors, try to have coffee with people. Connect with classmates in different disciplines, in and out of the classroom, so that you’re getting a more well rounded view of sustainability because none of these things are happening in silos. As much as you can, be completely immersed while you’re in the program because it goes by in an instant. Read the news, see what’s going on, draw links between current events and what you’re learning in the classroom, live and breathe it to get the most out of it.
I’ve been getting really into foraging for mushrooms recently. I have a secret morel spot and secret porcini spot in Colorado that I’ve found in burnt areas that I cross referenced with GIS maps to locate because you have to look at the aspect and elevation and how recent a fire was to find them.
Ashley Seaward, Class of 2018
I received a BA in Environmental Studies with a minor in Technology, Arts & Media (TAM) from CU Boulder. I did my undergrad and master's degrees back-to-back, but throughout my education I worked for six years at Norlin Library as a digital imaging assistant where I gained skills in digital preservation and Adobe programs. I wanted to gain more experience in the policy field so I also completed two internships. The first internship was at EPA Region 8 NEPA Team where I reviewed transportation projects for NEPA compliance. The second internship was with Boulder County where I worked with a local government coalition to push for the adoption of the California Clean Car standards in Colorado. My research specialized in formulating arguments for the adoption of the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate.
I work at PeopleForBikes in Boulder as a regulatory & policy analyst. I work closely with the director of state and local policy to review proposed legislation and regulations at the local and state level in all 50 states. We promote any legislation or regulation that aids in increased bike ridership and sales.
My favorite course I took in the MENV Program was "Politics, Policy, and Mangagement: Foundations" with Dr. Lydia Lawhon. I enjoyed learning how to analyze different ways to argue and frame policy depending on the audience in which you are trying to influence.
I would tell them to try and get an internship if they have the time. That in conjunction with my Capstone Project was what made me a highly competitive candidate for my position after graduation.
I am both a German and American citizen and I have a twin brother who works in Sports Journalism.
Lauren Berger Taylor, Class of 2018
I went to Johns Hopkins University for undergrad, where I focused my studies on energy security. After graduation, I was a backpacking guide for several months and then joined Booz Allen Hamilton in Washington, D.C. At BAH, I worked as an environmental consultant for a Department of Defense client. The client's program brought disparate groups - local governments, military installations, the private sector, and conservation organizations - together to find mutually-beneficial and innovative solutions.
I wanted to use graduate school to acquire the knowledge, skills, and network that would enable me to launch a career in energy. By choosing the MENV program, I was also able to pursue an MBA degree, and the two programs together gave me a deep background in energy and skills that are broadly applicable across the private sector.
Within the energy concentration, it was "Energy Policy in the 21st Century." As an MENV elective, it was "Policy, Politics, and Management." In the business school (where MENV students can also take classes!), it was "IT and Business Strategy."
I am very excited that I joined Tendril in January 2019. Tendril is a Boulder company that is a leader in home energy management and whose customers include the some of the largest utilities in the United States. I am working with the Orchestrated Energy team to help scale their new software product and run customer programs.
Keep your eyes on the prize! Be able to define what you are here to achieve, and then align your classes, electives, Capstone Project, and "free" time with that goal. Remember that a huge part of grad school is building a professional network and there will be times where your top priotity should be networking, not homework.
There is a 1-in-4 chance I ate dessert for breakfast.
Alec Brazeau, Class of 2017
I received a BS in Environmental Science with a minor in Geology from the University of Denver before attending the MENV program. At the University of Denver, I was a resident assistant and ran the whitewater kayaking club. Prior to coming to Boulder, I was a whitewater rafting and kayaking guide on the Colorado River as well as a backpacking, mountaineering, and rafting guide in Alaska.
I am a Resilience Planner at Dewberry, a market-facing consulting firm providing services to clients in the private and public sectors. As a Resilience Planner, I focus on emergency management, hazard mitigation and resilience-based solutions for FEMA, state governments, local governments, and non-profits. My day-to-day varies greatly, from writing policy on hazard mitigation to analyzing geospatial data in Python to aid in hurricane recovery.
My favorite course was Environmental Decision-Making with Professor Mark Squillace. The class revolved around taking a deep-dive into making environmentally-sound decisions in the context of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). It was a great opportunity to tap into Professor Squillace's wealth of knowledge.
The value of networking can not be stressed enough. Developing meaningful relationships with your peers and fellow professionals during your time in the MENV program will be the key to shifting into a job in the field you are learning about. The Capstone Project is a great avenue for networking.
Not many people know that I spent a month camping alone at high elevation between the Ruth Glacier and the Great Gorge, just south of Denali. That experience showed me the value of self-reflection and confidence in a way I had never imagined!
Vinod Malwatte, Class of 2017
Born, raised, and educated in Colombo, Sri Lanka, it was for my undergraduate studies that I left the island. I received my BA in Geography and Environmental Studies with a minor in Anthropology from Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN. As part of the MENV program, I specialized in Sustainability Planning and Management (SPM).
Professionally, I have worked in the environmental field for many years in a number of diverse roles. After graduating from the MENV program, my jobs have included working for the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority as a Project Coordinator for their Rewilding for Tourism (RFT) project; a project which sought to regrow endemic species in state owned under-utilized lands adjacent to protected areas, with the aim of using these areas for community based eco-tourism projects and helping Sri Lanka reach its forest cover target of 32%. In another position, I was the Co-Project Manager for a start up on the East Coast of Sri Lanka called Waste Less Arugam Bay (WLAB), which aims to offer holistic solutions to plastic related issues. My work included planning environmental education programs, creating community engagement strategies, and working with local authorities to organize illegal forest dump clean ups and remote location trash collections.
Prior to these opportunities and my master’s education, I worked as the Project Manager for the Federation of Environmental Organizations (FEO), Sri Lanka and carried out several community engagement and environmental education projects such as Sri Lanka's first bird watching and identification race called the "Colombo Bird Race" and the "Sri Lankan Elephant" exhibition which served to influence behavior changes in local communities affected by the Human Elephant Conflict (HEC). As part of this role I worked on a successful campaign targeted at shutting down a new coal plant which was set to open on the East Coast of Sri Lanka. Previous experiences also included working with the Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project in Colombo, Sri Lanka as an environmental educator and field assistant. Since returning to Sri Lanka I have begun working with the project again and have been engaged in some trapping, collaring, and tracking of fishing cats in the urban wetlands of Colombo.
A friend and I recently founded the Parrotfish Collective, a group that works as environmental educators and communicators by creating original content in the fields of biodiversity, conservation, and environmental communication.
Some of our current jobs include creating content for the digital media campaign for the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Conference of Parties (CoP) 18 which is due to be held in May 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka (my hometown). As part of this digital media campaign we have brought to life animals in the CoP 18 logo via cartoons and animations and will be using these characters to educate global and local audiences on their roles in the ecosystems, the threats they are faced with and what makes these species unique. As part of the campaign we have been working with field biologists on the ground to showcase their hard work to global and local audiences, thereby building a support network and providing viewers with an outlet to engage with.
Another job we worked on was the content creation for Fishing Cat February. This event was initiated by the Global Fishing Cat Working Group and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Fishing Cat Species Survival Plan. With the hope of creating awareness and education about the little known yet enigmatic Fishing Cat, this global campaign plugged into existing wildlife networks to build a community around this species. To check in with the campaign, follow the Fishingcatwg Instagram handle!
My favorite course during the MENV program is an elective I took in the Political Science Department. The course was titled "Natural Resource Governance" and was taught by Dr. Krister Andersson. A topic I am very interested in, the course looked at how natural resources are governed and what complexities surround these governance structures. Dr. Joel Hartter recommended that I enroll in that course due to my interest in protected areas and I haven't looked back since. Currently, I am in the process of submitting the final research paper I wrote for that course to a journal for publication with the hope that my research can contribute towards better understanding some of the issues surrounding protected area management in Sri Lanka.
Make use of all the resources that are made available to you as a student. The faculty in the MENV program are extremely engaged, knowledgeable, and approachable, so always communicate with them and bounce ideas off them. Make use of their office hours, share your thoughts and frustrations, you never know what advice they may have for you! Make use of resources that the City of Boulder has to offer. Taking time away from school, the program, and spending time by myself exploring the city and all it has to offer helped me create a good school life balance.
I am a co-owner of a small batch artisanal tea company in Sri Lanka which specializes in loose leaf teas including herbal and floral blends.