Each month, the Environmental Sciences Academic Program highlights a current student who represent the diverse and involved student population within the program. This month, August, the spotlight focuses on, Lauren Huffstetler.
Name: Lauren Huffstetler
Focal Area: Applied Ecology
Hometown: Gastonia, NC
- What lead you to select Environmental Sciences at NC State?
Throughout high school, I competed in local, regional, state, and even international science fair competitions (ISEF), so I already knew I loved inquisitive, scientific method testing. However, I had always wanted to be a teacher since I was very young. I originally started out as a science education major, but after only a short semester decided that path was not for me and a more research-based approach to science might be a better fit. I transferred into Environmental Sciences because the program had a great reputation as a flexible major that would allow me to choose any realm of the natural sciences as a focal area and tailor my courses to what interested me most.
- What is your favorite aspect about the Environmental Science program?
My favorite thing would have to be the external learning experience requirement. While most students might find this intimidating because it takes a little extra effort to find an internship or write a thesis, I have found experiences outside the classroom to be the best method for weeding out what you like and dislike in your field. I have now completed two internships as an undergraduate, and I feel confident in saying they have prepared me for a career in Environmental Sciences or to pursue higher education on the subject.
- What has been your favorite course at NC State?
This might sound crazy, but my favorite course has been Fitness and Wellness. It taught me some basic lifestyle choices about nutrition and exercise that have stuck with me to this day.
- How did you select your focal area?
I selected Applied Ecology (with a special interest in marine ecology) because it’s so relevant to our time. I have always enjoyed all things water, and I wanted to take it step further and actually learn about how a marine ecosystem functions. There are so many marine and estuarine species that haven’t fully been studied. Animal habitat is frequently changing with increased urban development, so it’s more important than ever to understand how this affects any one species. You never truly know how valuable they are to an ecosystem until they’re gone.
- What is something you wish someone had told you when you were a freshman?
I wish someone had reminded me to focus less on ‘making the grade’ and more on truly learning course material. Ultimately, that’s what matters, right? A grade is not worth risking your health. As a student, every year you learn information that builds and stems from past course material, so it’s important to make sure you know and retain the concepts needed for your career.
- What is your favorite thing to do outside of the classroom?
I enjoy capturing anything and everything with Digital SLR photography. However, nature photography is definitely my favorite. Give me a landscape or sunset to photograph, and I’m happy.