Environmental studies student honored as Dean's medalist
Each semester, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences selects one outstanding graduate from each of its academic units for the CLAS Dean’s Medal Award. This May, with more than 40 students graduating from ASU with bachelor’s degrees in earth and space exploration or earth and environmental studies, Amanda Orozco will be recognized as the Dean’s Medal recipient for the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE).
When Orozco began her studies at ASU in fall 2010, she started out as a biology major intending to concentrate on conservation biology. Four years later, the California native (graduate of Leland High School in San Jose, Calif.) has taken her love of nature down the environmental science route.
“I realized the Earth and Environmental Studies program through the School of Earth and Space Exploration was much more interesting to me than my original major, and could prepare me for more careers that I am interested in,” said Orozco, who plans to pursue a career in environmental consulting.
Orozco will graduate with a bachelor's in earth and environmental studies and a minor in sustainability.
“I couldn’t believe how much I loved the geology classes that this major requires. At first, I didn’t really understand why I was required to take such intense geology courses, but now I am so happy I took them because it does give me a competitive edge compared to environmental science students from other institutions,” says Orozco, who has been accepted to the University of San Francisco for graduate school and will be starting a Master’s of Science in Environmental Management in fall 2014.
According to Orozco, it was her experience in Mexico through a program called UMB-WEST, short for U.S.-Mexico Border Water and Environmental Sustainability Training, which helped her narrow her interests in sustainability to water resources management and environmental policy.
Under the joint mentorship of professor Enrique Vivoni and several U.S. and Mexican research partners, UMB-WEST participants investigate hydrologic science in the Sonora region. Students collect field hydrologic measurements useful for water resources management, examine local water resources infrastructure, meet with local decision-makers and apply data analysis techniques to hydrologic modeling experiences. Each year, students participate in a two-week field campaign, during which they deploy instrumentation, conduct field sampling, visit water infrastructure projects and interact with local water managers.
Orozco has been supplementing her classroom education and field research experience with an internship offered by the Arizona State Legislature and ASU. She is currently a legislative research intern for the Arizona House of Representatives and works for the Committees on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources and Agriculture and Water.
“Through this internship, I am getting firsthand experience in the field of environmental and other public policy, which I believe is extremely valuable for any career surrounding environmental science,” says Orozco. “ASU has definitely prepared me for what is to come after graduation, and I feel well-equipped to be going after a master’s degree and pursuing a career in environmental consulting. The entire SESE faculty has been very supportive of my interests, and I am so grateful that I was part of such an awesome department at ASU.”