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Each month, the Environmental Sciences Academic Program highlights a current student who represent the diverse and involved student population within the program. This month, November, the spotlight focuses on, Jessica Westervelt.

Jessica WesterveltName: Jessica Westervelt

Focal Area: Business Administration at the moment, but I may be creating my own and focusing on Sustainable Development within the Sustainable Energy minor

Year: Junior

Hometown: Toms River, New Jersey

1. What lead you to select Environmental Sciences at NC State?

I have always been interested in the environment, and in high school I took an independent research class where I studied different methods to decrease the impact NASCAR racing has on the environment. Since I hope to work for NASCAR Green in the future, this spurred me to study environmental science. I chose NC State because the program is great, there are amazing opportunities available here, it is close to the center of NASCAR (Charlotte), outstanding people are involved and invested in the program, and most of all I fell in love with NC State as soon as I got here for a tour in the summer before my senior year of high school.

2. What is your favorite aspect about the Environmental Science program?

There are a lot of things I love about the Environmental Science program, like the people (faculty and students) involved, the close knit community feeling, and all of our fun events, but one thing stands out the most and is one of the many reasons why I chose this program. I absolutely love how flexible the program is. We have so much freedom in not only the classes we can take, but when we can take them. And the fact that we can tailor the major to our own individual interests is amazing. The fact that I can gear my career path towards NASCAR and a fellow student could be working toward a government job is astounding to me and also makes our program extremely unique at NC State. The flexibility of the program also allows for a lot of options when it comes to studying abroad. I am currently in the process of applying to study abroad in Leeds, United Kingdom this spring semester and I could not be more excited, especially since I can take classes that fit with my degree and that are about subjects I am passionate about!

3. What has been your favorite course at NC State?

I’ve enjoyed most of my courses so far at NC State, so it’s a bit hard for me to pick a favorite but I would have to say the frontrunner for me would be LEED Laboratory (ARC 590: Special Topics in Architecture). I am taking the class this semester, and it is only the second time it is being offered at NC State and one of the few courses of its’ kind across the United States. Each semester the class chooses an existing building on campus and spends the semester combing through the LEED Operations and Maintenance guide to make recommendations to improve the efficiency of the building. This semester, our designated building is Bragaw Hall, and it has proven to be quite a challenge so far. We have already covered one set of LEED credits so far and are currently working on the second set. I have really enjoyed this class because of its uniqueness as well as the interdisciplinary nature of it. There are students from the College of Design, College of Engineering, College of Natural Resources, and Environmental Sciences in the class, and since we work in groups to analyze the building, I am able to meet and work with people who have different strengths, weaknesses, and ideas than I do and it has been very enjoyable so far. As a class we’ve also gotten to take a tour of the Sonoco Material Recovery Facility, do a waste audit on Bragaw, and hear from NC State employees who work in grounds management, air quality, the Sustainability Office, Waste Reduction and Recycling, University Housing, and Campus Life plus a few more departments.

4. How did you select your focal area?

I initially chose business administration as my focal area because I wanted to have a basic knowledge of all the things that go into the business side of a company. I want to work for NASCAR Green, so I felt it would be important to have a basic understanding of business-related things, like accounting, supply chain, entrepreneurship, and marketing. While I still plan on keeping the business administration minor, I may switch my focal area to sustainable development. I became interested in this field while taking the LEED Lab course, so it is a fairly recent decision. I think knowledge in this field would be critical for my future as I am really interested in sustainable building and this is sort of what I want to do for NASCAR, except applied to racetrack design, construction, and remodeling. Also, the classes that I plan on taking when I study abroad next semester are very applicable to sustainable development, so changing my focal area mainly depends on the classes I take while abroad.

5. What is something you wish someone had told you when you were a freshman?

Everyone always says college is the best four years of our life, which I don’t know if that’s completely true yet since I have many years left in life, but it has been a pretty awesome two and a half years so far. With this being said I wish someone had told me how quickly it goes by, that I would go from freshman year to approaching senior year in what seems like a blink of the eye. It still feels like yesterday I was just beginning freshman year and now when I sit down to plan my schedule there are only three semesters left. I also can’t believe that this semester is almost over already, it feels like it just started! I really wish I had been told or realized how quickly time was going to go by, and this is the first thing I tell freshmen now.

6. What is your favorite thing to do outside of the classroom?

I can’t think of one specific activity that is my favorite thing to do when not in class, so a few of the things I do the most and enjoy would be spending time with my friends and family, bowling on the NC State club team, watching NASCAR (of course!), and I might have a slight obsession with the crime dramedy television genre (i.e. NCIS: Los Angeles and Castle).