As a native of Ipswich, Massachusetts who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama, Lauren Lynch has always felt very connected to the natural environment. Lynch, a 2017 UEP graduate, recognizes that many in the city may not feel this same connection or immediate relevance of nature to their daily lives, but felt her career at UEP gave her the tools to be an effective communicator and to respect people’s different experiences.
“People (at UEP) are really interested in digging into meaningful questions and pushing back against conventional thoughts,” Lynch said.
While UEP is a small community it is relatively diverse, Lynch said, and pushes its students to think about policy issues in more holistic ways.
A reluctant generalist, Lynch is interested in environmental policy but appreciated that UEP does not force its students to select a concentration. While there are pros and cons to this approach, Lynch felt it exposed her to a broader community of people and to think about her areas of interest from different angles.
In addition to discussing concepts, Lynch felt UEP helped equip her with many tangible skills. Classes like Green Urban Design and the Geographic Information Systems courses offer students technical skills and courses such as Water Resources and Management as well as Land Use Planning give them exposure to professionals in the field, Lynch said.
Lynch also felt the UEP network was a valuable aspect of her experience. She received an internship from The Nature Conservancy after a UEP alumnus emailed an organization representative on her behalf. From this, Lynch found inspiration for her thesis — which was a feasibility assessment for a water sharing investment partnership in the Rio Grande in Texas — and is awaiting news on whether this internship can yield full time employment.
Before Lynch came to UEP for her graduate studies she was working in a project management role. While she enjoyed the job, Lynch felt the daily functions often obscured the broader vision and how the work contributed to the greater good. Returning to school helped reinvigorate this vision, Lynch said. It helped her explore this vision of making natural resources conservation relevant to modern communities and it gave her the tools to think differently about how to achieve this vision.