Skip to main content

Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences

Breaking News

Shawn Warren in the lab

Shawn Warren in the lab

Alumni News: Shawn Warren '14

A lovely letter about a change of career

A lovely letter about a change of career

We were thrilled to hear from ESS alumnus Shawn Warren '14 recently with an update on his career plans. He's come a long way since he was a research assistant in Virginia Matzek's lab, working on soil carbon and nutrient cycling! We asked Shawn to write about finding his true path, on his journey from environmental science to nursing:

As an alum of both the Environmental Science and Biology departments, I developed a strong love for science and the research process, but most importantly to me, a strong love for learning.  I enjoyed the classes I took, the professors I worked with and I especially loved working as a research assistant on a study assessing restored riparian habitat ecosystem processes. I have wonderful memories outside of the classroom as well.  I made a great group of friends; and despite living all across the country, we still manage to have a Secret Santa gift exchange each year.

After graduation, I worked with Friends of the Los Angeles River, a non-profit organization based in my home city.  I had a great experience working as both an environmental educator and with environmental policy. At my time there I helped start a working group aimed at improving the vegetation management of the soft-bottom sections of the river.  I also led field trips to the river and school visits with our mobile education center, giving elementary school children a great learning experience about one of Los Angeles’ hidden natural areas.

I worked at FoLAR for about 2 years before deciding on a new path in life. After some soul searching, I decided to change my focus career-wise and pursue nursing.  A value that has been ingrained in me since I was a child is to put others before myself.  I knew that I wanted to help others with my career and I knew I wanted a career where I could see the product of my work each day.  Nursing checked both of those boxes for me and I have been thoroughly enjoying my journey so far. I am currently enrolled in El Camino College’s nursing program and will be graduating in June 2019. After passing my board exam next summer, I will be a full-fledged registered nurse.

My background in biology has helped me in learning disease processes and the countless research articles I read during my time at SCU prepared me for researching evidence-based practices (all nursing interventions should be backed by research).  Additionally, in the future, I may drift back toward my environmental science roots and explore the field of public health nursing. The beauty of nursing is that there are so many disciplines within the profession, so if working in the hospital is not resonating with you there are countless options you can do with your degree.

It is hard to believe that I am almost finished with this nursing program; almost as hard to believe as the fact that I graduated from SCU nearly 5 years ago.  To quote the wise words of Smash Mouth off of their 1999 album, “the years start coming and they don’t stop coming.” With that in mind, remember not to be a passenger in your own life. I lived a large portion of my life making decisions based on what I thought others would want me to do. It was only until I truly thought about what I wanted for myself that I decided to pursue nursing. So listen to advice from others, but make decisions in your life on your own terms. After all, it is your life. No one else gets to live it, so make it one you can be proud of.


So listen to advice from others, but make decisions in your life on your own terms. After all, it is your life. No one else gets to live it, so make it one you can be proud of.

Shawn Warren, Class of 2014