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Student Spotlight: Jayna Sananikone

Jayna Sananikone

Environmental Technology and Management major Jayna Sananikone spent her Spring Break in Eastern North Carolina on an Alternative Service Break (ASB) program with the Center for Student Leadership, Ethics and Public Service (CSLEPS). The Environmental Justice Program takes students on a week-long journey through Wilmington and the Cape Fear River Basin to see first-hand the impact of environmental challenges on different communities. When she isn’t traveling, Sananikone spends her time volunteering as the Event Coordinator for NC State’s Chapter of Wine to Water and a member of the WESA, S4S and Dance Marathon student groups. Her next travel plans include visiting Sweden, Germany and the Czech Republic in the summer and spending a semester in Australia. Check out Sananikone’s enlightening trip to Eastern, N.C., supported by the CNR Student Assistance and Enrichment Fund.

How did this experience impact you?

This experience opened my eyes to environmental issues that were going on in a state that I have lived in my entire life. I did not know about many of these issues and how long they have been going on. This experience helped me realize the importance of educating myself and keeping up with the news, which I did not really do beforehand. Education is truly the key to becoming a better individual and citizen.

How has this opportunity prepared you for your future career?

This opportunity confirmed the morals I wanted to keep when I began looking for a job, which includes having the interest of not only helping the environment, but also the community. It reminded me that decisions I make will directly impact communities and that I need to make sure the health of people are never at risk. This experience has also allowed me to make connections with people I know could benefit my future aspirations.

How did this opportunity enhance your experience as a CNR student?

This experience has enhanced my experience as a CNR student because it made me become a more well-rounded student in my major. It made me more aware of the different pathways I could possibly take with my major, whether it be though fieldwork or policy.

Why was participating in this experience important to you?

Participating in this experience was important because seeing the impacts of environmental injustice first-hand made me more passionate about my major and the work I hope to pursue. It showed me that I had a hidden passion for environmental justice and made me realize that if I want to see a change in the environment for future generations, then I need to be active in trying to make a change.

What did you enjoy most about your experience?

The aspect I enjoyed most about this trip was making connections with people that will last a lifetime. I made connections with people from Wilmington and faculty on campus. I had heard from a few past ASB participants that after their trip, their group did not really connect again. But after my experience was complete, my group has met multiple times since then. I really consider my ASB family a home away from home.

Would you recommend this experience to other students?

I would recommend this experience to other students because it was a valuable one that I will never forget. This experience pushed me out of my comfort zone in the best way. It hit every aspect and was very interdisciplinary. It has driven me to be a more open person and allowed me to speak my mind on subjects I usually would not speak out against. It also enlightened me on how the environment can directly impact one’s health and showed me that a small organization can make a difference.

Have you participated in any other hands-on experiences?

I have participated in a study abroad program to Africa and an internship. Both of these experiences were important because, even though they were very different, they both applied things I have learned from my major. These experiences also go hand-in-hand with my CSLEPS ASB experience, because the overall theme in all three was to not only to help the environment, but also the community who are impacted by it. Seeing this theme trend in such different experiences has geared me to put it into action in my future aspirations.