Summer months are full of free time and opportunity. Some students take this time to relax, while others use the extra hours to explore possible career paths and gain further knowledge. Audrey Dickinson, a junior at MC, chose the latter by participating in a two week program through UCSD centering around environmental issues.
“The GELS program showed me potential career paths through observing scientists and grad students at Scripps Institution of Oceanography,” Dickinson said. “It also emphasized the dire need for scientific innovation to combat environmental issues.”
The GELS (Global Environmental Leadership and Sustainability) program caters to budding young environmentalists across the country. There are five locations for the program (Catalina Island, Arizona, Washington D.C., Mexico, and Hawaii), each housing different species of study.
The Washington program, which Dickinson attended, also stresses the importance of politics when combating environmental issues, which is primarily why Dickinson chose this location.
“There’s really no point to grassroots environmentalism except to influence policy. Climate change poses an existential threat to society and even civilization, but there’s simply no way to get everyone to accept the science and change their behavior for the common, long-term good,” Dickinson said. “Environmental policy is the only way to save ourselves. People have to be forced to do the right thing.”
However, politics was only half of the program. The first week of the two week experience consisted of Dickinson and her peers conducting experiments and collecting data on the effects of climate change on Earth’s systems.
The second week allowed time to take a breather by touring Washington and meeting White House personnel, but was still stressful.
“Six hours of sleep per night for two weeks! I’d never experienced long – term sleep deprivation like that (even in school). But even then, given the choice between late – night fun (John Mulaney watch parties and Karaoke) and more sleep, I chose to do the things I would remember for the rest of my life,” Dickinson said.
Though the program was hard work, Dickinson recommends applying for it. Not only is the program a great opportunity to explore a possible career path in environmentalism, but also the perfect place to build relationships.
“I really enjoyed meeting so many people who were uncannily similar to myself. I’ve never made friends particularly easily, but this group was immediately bonded by our shared anger and despair and hope regarding environmental issues,” Dickinson said.
Dickinson already has plans for next summer, this time in oceanography. She hopes to take part in an oceanography program through Scripps.
For Dickinson, this program was a worthwhile endeavor which may be the beginning to a future career in environmentalism. Meeting politicians who shared her views and are helping change the world allowed her to do things “I would remember for the rest of my life,” Dickinson said.