Sophie '24

Sophie '24 photo

Syracuse Abroad

Major: Environment, Sustainability, & Policy; History
Minor: Atrocity Studies and the Practices of Social Justice

Describe your Syracuse experience in a couple of sentences.
My Syracuse experience has been transformative and door-opening. As an incoming freshman I wasn’t exactly sure what I imagined for myself in the future; however, knew I was passionate about environmental policy and action. Syracuse University has consistently supported my determination in this arena and provided diverse outlets for me to pursue this interest—whether that be through studying abroad, at my job in the Dynamic Sustainability Lab, in my course work, or through the scholarship that originally allowed me to attend Syracuse.

How is your school/college preparing you for your future career?
The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs has prepared me for a successful and rewarding career in the public sector not only through rich, hands-on courses and engaging faculty mentors but also because of its outstanding alumni network and internal resources dedicated to garnering students’ skills. As a Maxwell student, we are constantly given opportunities to learn from and speak with thought leaders and industry professionals who give valuable insight to future graduates (who often have a shared love for SU). As someone who hopes to work within the sustainability and environmental policy space, Maxwell has allowed me to take classes with professors who share a similar pathos towards environmental action while also giving me the practical skills and experiences to be a competitive candidate after graduation.

What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I aspire to receive a Fulbright Open Study/Research award to develop and continue my current thesis research which, from a historical perspective, examines ecological imperialism in Vietnam during the French and Soviet eras. After this year of intensive research study, my goal is to move to Washington, D.C. to gain work experience in the environmental policy world for a few years before returning either to law school or an MPA program with a focus on environmental governance.

How has your involvement with any organizations/extracurriculars impacted you?
During this school year, I had the opportunity to approach ecological activism from a new but equally rewarding perspective: education and mentorship. As the Environment & Sustainability RA, I connected first-year students with sustainability-related campus happenings, planned events for them to connect with faculty and explore the natural amenities of Syracuse, and created a space where their passion for the environment was heard and reciprocated. I’m passionate about the intersection of social and environmental issues which is why I sought out service opportunities that combine these two topics. As a member of the Food Recovery Network, I redistribute surplus food from dining halls to Syracuse community members in need. This is a joyous part of my week where I’ve not only made friendships and connections with community organizers in Syracuse but also been able to give back to the broader neighborhood all while reducing food waste. My role as a Global Ambassador through Syracuse Abroad has also been an incredibly rewarding experience. After studying abroad in Poland during the Fall 2021 semester, I knew I wanted to carry this experience forward in some capacity. As a Global Ambassador, I’ve been able to give advice and encourage other students planning to travel abroad—specifically to Poland—and share the love I have for a country that embraced me and my cohort during such uncertain times.

Are you the recipient of any scholarships?
I am the recipient of the Maxwell Leadership Scholarship, Invest in SUccess Scholarship, Syracuse Abroad Merit Scholarship, Remembrance Scholar (2023-2024), SOURCE research funding, and the Internship Funding Award from Career Services.

Have you performed any internships and how has that impacted you?
I participated in an internship during the summer of 2022. My internship was an eight-week fellowship program with the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) which ran from June 6th to July 29th. PEC is a nonprofit which services nine counties in Virginia’s Piedmont region. I worked alongside seasoned professionals in land conservation, land use planning, agriculture, and other subject areas relating to environmental policy. For the first five weeks, I was involved in discussions with staff members and guest speakers, field trips, and hands-on activities to understand the work of PEC and the broader world of environmental nonprofits. For the last three weeks, my primary responsibility was working on a final practicum project and presentation that focused on a specific interest of mine–equity in sustainable food systems– with ongoing issues in Virginia’s Piedmont. My proposal called for greater investment in addressing food system injustices at the county level and investing in BIPOC farmers and landowners. Every Sunday I submitted a written reflection and photographs which presented recent material covered and are read and used by PEC staff. 

Have you studied abroad? Tell me about that experience.
In the fall of 2021, I studied abroad in Wrocław, Poland, through Syracuse University’s Exploring Central Europe program. During my semester there, we explored themes based on identity, history, and politics in the context of Central Europe, with particular emphasis on the 20th century. I was drawn to this program because it offered the unique opportunity to gain a truly comprehensive understanding of a country’s past and contemporary influences of its history. What exceeded my initial expectations was our two-week signature seminar and weekend trips, which took us to each region and major city of the country. Our journey took us to the cities of Gdańsk, Lublin, Kraków, Warsaw, and Berlin (a visit beyond Poland), in addition to excursions to smaller towns in Poland’s countryside, where we were hosted by foundations engaged in peacebuilding and reconciliation. These trips bonded our cohort as we collectively navigated rich new spaces while also reckoning with atrocities committed in the same places. During my three months in Poland, I took my first solo travel trip, met incredible people from across the world, and gained invaluable knowledge about myself and Central European history. This program is unique in both the academic and personal growth it encourages, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in pursuing either.

What has been your favorite Syracuse experience so far?
My favorite Syracuse experience so far has been working at the Dynamic Sustainability Lab. This experience is the perfect example of how SU’s coursework is translated into real-world opportunities. While taking Dr. Jay Golden’s “Corporations & Sustainability” course in the Fall 2022 semester, I began work on a collaborative project on the role of insurance in the voluntary carbon markets. This project involved a nonprofit client whom we met with every two weeks and at the end of the semester presented our final technical bulletin. During this process, I sharpened my research, presentation, and quantitative analysis skills. Once the semester ended, I was offered a job at the Dynamic Sustainability Lab (directed by Dr. Golden) and have continued work on this project ever since. Since beginning this job at the Lab, I’ve been inspired by the numerous other student research projects, been able to meet thought-leaders like Tom Steyer, and felt financially supported by a paid position that values research on emerging environmental issues. My favorite memory at the DSL was our trip to D.C. this spring to attend the Sustainability Symposium and network with a variety of sustainability professionals. This was particularly special because I have goals of moving to D.C. and because the symposium brought together a wide range of sectors that influence environmental policy—from human rights to lobbyists to the press.

How has donor generosity impacted your time at Syracuse?
Donor generosity has made my entire SU experience possible. From my Leadership Scholarship to funding to support my endeavors abroad and the generous donors who support our work at the Dynamic Sustainability Lab—the entire trajectory of my college career would have been vastly different were it not for the support of Syracuse’s donors. Additionally, my minor program (Atrocity Studies & the Practices of Social Justice) and the phenomenal experiences it has afforded me in the last year would not have existed without the support of the Zell family.

Why do you think giving is important?
Giving is an instrumental part of ensuring something you are passionate about continues to exist for others to enjoy and through which they can have equally amazing experiences.  In the context of giving back to Syracuse University, giving is a necessary part of paying it forward for the next generation of scholars who may not have the same financial advantages. Giving is all about equity, justice, and opportunity.

What does it mean to you to be Orange?
To be Orange means to take every chance afforded to you. To say yes despite inherent hesitation. To be thoughtful and logical but also to take risks and be bold with your ambitions. To embody what it means to be Orange requires compassion, determination, and a strong commitment to the communities from which you come and those you hope to be a part of in the future.  

Return Home   Give Now