Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences

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Colleen Henn ‘16


I graduated from Santa Clara in the spring of 2016, and went back home to a small town at the end of Eastern Long Island, New York. I returned to an internship with the Surfrider Foundation. Surfrider is dedicated to protecting our world’s oceans, waves and beaches through an expansive grassroots network of chapters and clubs. I joined Surfrider’s Eastern Long Island Chapter, but was fortunate enough to live in the same town as Surfrider National’s Water Quality Manager, Mara Dias, who almost singlehandedly gets the BEACH Act funded every year. (If you don’t know what that is- look it up!). I learned from the best of the best.

As is the nature of a nonprofit, I wear many hats. I sample water quality at local beaches, analyze that data, make it available to the public, attend public hearings, organize beach cleanups, keep track of debris found at cleanups, conduct education programs with schools and camps, and maintain great relations with our partners. On a national level, I also assist 35 volunteer-run water quality-testing labs across the country.  If I were to give anyone advice, it would be to do what you love, and put your whole heart into it. Nothing is more gratifying than seeing the results from your hard work.

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