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Graduation to Vocation: Improving Environmental and Human Health

kierra poses outside

Striving to be a positive influence wherever she goes, Kierra Christie is passionate about working in a field that affects environmental and human health and will allow her to positively impact lives for many years to come.

Christie is a recent Forestry and Environmental Resources graduate who received her undergraduate degree in Environmental Technology and Management. She will be taking a gap year before returning to college to pursue her master’s degree in public health with a concentration on occupational health and safety.

How has the College of Natural Resources impacted you and prepared you for your future?

The College of Natural Resources has provided me with multiple opportunities in professional growth, networking, hands-on research, and confidence to excel inside and outside of my field of study. I have met many people (students included) within CNR who are eager to see its members succeed. It was through these people, I found, was encouraged to apply for, and was blessed to receive the two-summer internship program that helped enhance my work experience.

What kind of research or other hands-on/in-the-field learning did you participate in?

My hands-on/in-the-field learning includes, but isn’t limited to, birding, plant-identification, working on national wildlife refuges and working with baby alligators for educational purposes. One research opportunity I had the pleasure of doing was analyzing how the rise in sea level can affect what fluxes out of the northern Florida soils into surface water. I’ve also had the opportunity to study how the rise in ocean temperatures affect certain vegetation and prey and predatory fish habits.

Tell us about a faculty member who influenced you.

Shaefny Grays is one of many faculty who has influenced me. I enjoy the conversations I have had with Dr. Grays. She continuously challenges me to expand my thought process, and it has created the WOCIS (Women of Color in STEM) group I am a part of. Since joining WOCIS, I have assisted in planning meetings and activities that can provide various resources and help others the way Dr. Grays has helped me.

What is unique about you or your work?

Many people may not know but I am hearing impaired. I do not use my disability as a crutch but as fuel to always put my best foot forward regardless of my circumstance. My impairment has helped mold me into the hardworking, personable individual I am today, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. 

What advice would you give students entering your major or field?

Don’t let the title box you in. Instead, absorb as much information and experiences as you possibly can. The work you do in this major can take you places and open doors you never imagined would be opened. *Plus you get to wear the hazmat suit :)*