Dear ESS Friends,
This has been a challenging year for our students, staff and faculty. COVID-19 disrupted our lives, sending us to our various homes and separating us from our communities. Our faculty stepped up at the end of winter quarter to transition their classes to an on-line format which then continued into spring. Our students adjusted to this new reality quickly as well. I heard from many of our students that our faculty met this moment with grace and compassion and that our students had some very meaningful learning experiences. In addition, the last few weeks of spring quarter have been devastating for our community. The recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, have made our faculty members reassess our privileges and our commitment to our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students. We promise to do better in the future to educate ourselves and become more effective educators of all of our students.
Despite the ending to the school year, we have many things to celebrate. First, congratulations to the class of 2020! While this is the first class in the history of SCU to have a virtual graduation, we are looking forward to celebrating in person sometime next year. Our virtual celebration included departmental awards, a slideshow of student experiences, and even a roast of our faculty members. Congrats to Lucky Hinkle awardee Sammi Zamora, Environmental Studies Research awardee Emma Hokoda, Environmental Science Research awardees Nolan Meyer and Jackie Rogers, Environmental Studies Academic Achievement Awardee Emma Stinson, and Environmental Sciences Academic Achievement Awardee, Nolan Meyer.
Besides the other good news shared here about our alumni, we wanted to acknowledge that 12 ESS majors received funding through the REAL program to do their required internships last year. Our students gained experience in a wide range of fields, working as research assistants for professors, for non-profits and sustainable businesses. I would like to thank all of you who have donated to our program. Your generous donations allow us to match these stipends, and move closer to the goal of providing paid internships for all our students.
It’s been a delight serving as the ESS Department Chair these last three years. As chair, I’ve gotten to know many more of our students than I would as a regular faculty member. I am endlessly impressed with both the passion and commitment of our ESS students and faculty. I’d like to welcome our new chair, Virginia Matzek. Virginia is a restoration ecologist whose field research spans several areas: ecosystem service benefits of hunting, carbon sequestration in oak woodlands and restoration ecology. Virginia also teaches some very popular field courses including, ENVS 21, Natural History of Baja, Restoration Ecology and Applied Statistics.
Below are some highlights of the fabulous work that our students, alumni and faculty are engaged in. Like most years, ESS leads the SCU pack in Fulbright winners.
Best wishes to all for a relaxing and productive summer. Looking forward to things getting back to normal next year!
ESS Department Chair