Sarah McLarnan

What were your plans coming into college and how have they changed since?

Coming into college I had a lot of ideas of what I might want to do; secondary education, pre-med, environmental studies, exercise science, pretty much everything sounded interesting. Not much has changed, college has exposed me to even more intriguing and exciting avenues within my interests. In the last year I have narrowed my interest to environmental issues related to food security or a medical career. I have been grateful for the opportunity to explore my interests without confining myself to one path. 


Why did you choose environmental studies as your major?

I chose environmental studies because it is a major that both meets my interests in science and environmental issues but also exposes me to a wide variety of subjects I may not have sought out on my own. The structure of the program is such that students must take classes approaching environmental issues from a number of angles, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the perspectives and approaches to addressing these issues.

Have you participated in any study abroad, ABE, or other trips? If so, how were they beneficial to the environmental studies major?

I spent the fall of my junior year in Salzburg, Austria. There were many personally and professionally beneficial aspect of this experience. I enjoyed the opportunity to observe differences in attitudes and behaviors related to climate change and learn how Austrians are already experiencing and reacting to the impacts of a more volatile climate on their economy. Our group took a trip to the Pasterze Glacier in the Austrian Alps, providing a first-hand experience with some of issues covered in courses back on campus. Additionally, during this time I joined a group of CSB/SJU students and professors in attending COP 21 in Paris. This was truly an unmatched experience for a student of environmental issues. I sat in on panels of academics and professionals, interacted with other students and activists, followed the development of the draft agreement and was front row for former Vice President Al Gore.  


Are you involved with extra-curricular activities, on-campus employment, or off-campus employment? Please explain.

I have been involved with various groups and organizations during my time at CSB/SJU. I have worked at the Outdoor Leadership Center renting out gear and organizing events since the beginning of my first year. I was a soccer coach at St. John's Preparatory School for two seasons and I currently TA for the GIS class offered by the Environmental Studies Department. My sophomore year I was very involved with the FullCircle Greenhouse, a student-run, passive solar, winter greenhouse at St. Bens. I am also a member of the Peer Resource Program. 


Please describe your internship experience.

This summer I will participate in a 12 week internship with the Environmental Protection Agency. I eagerly look forward to being placed with a project and location sometime soon.


Do you have any advice for current or future environmental studies majors? 

I encourage environmental studies students to take environmental studies classes that are cross-listed with other majors. Ultimately environmental issues are interdisciplinary issues, they won't be solved by environmental studies majors alone. There is a lot to be gained by studying the subject with students outside the major and through a political, scientific, ethical or theological lens. Additionally, one of the greatest assets of the environmental studies department is the professors. Developing those connections will serve you immensely during your time on campus and beyond. 


What are your plans and goals for the future?

In the coming years I hope to gain more hands on experiences in the medical and environmental fields. From there I currently plan to continue my education either through medical school or in a masters program related to sustainable agriculture and food security. Ultimately, if I were to pursue my environmental interests I hope to become a professor.