Photo: LEAF 2012 interns on Santa Cruz Island. (ALL RIGHTS) July 2012. Photo credit: © Erika Nortemann/TNC
This summer, several graduating seniors, underclassmen and alumni are taking what they’ve learned at ECHS into the “real world” through internships and other paid positions with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The Nature Conservancy, Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) and STEM-UP. Their achievements are inspiring examples of what it means to be positive agents for change.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
“I have always wanted to work with the EPA because it combines my interests in business and environmental law,”
For the second consecutive year, ECHS students have earned The Nature Conservancy’s “Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF)” summer internships. 10 juniors — girls: Melissa Bush, Kala Jackson, Cristina Sanchez, Rosalinda Baires, Sarah Juarez and Alondra Mejia; and boys: John Paul de la O, Jeffrey Villarcorta, Joseph Romero and Aaron Penales — soon will be heading off to Conservancy preserves. The girls are bound for California’s Santa Rosa Plateau and the boys are off to Florida’s northern Everglades. During the course of the month-long internships, they will work alongside Conservancy scientists to restore and protect fragile habitat while learning about careers in conservation. Free time will be spent enjoying recreational activities in the great outdoors.
LEAF’s mission is to engage urban youth in conservation activities now so they will become future stewards for our planet. The program provides paid, residential career internships for students on nature preserves around the country and enriches their experiences in the classroom by providing professional development opportunities to educators from partner high schools.
National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Encouraged by ECHS Assistant Principal Mandy Breuer to apply, alumna Pamela González (class of 2012), who just completed her freshman year at Pomona College, has secured a summer internship with the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC). NRDC, which helps train the next generation of environmental advocates, hires students who possess the intelligence, skill, self-confidence and maturity to take on enormous responsibility. NRDC interns play an active role on the frontlines of the environmental movement – working with lawyers, scientists or policy analysts in different program areas to amass experience that they could not have obtained anywhere else.
With a passion for environmental activism, an interest in policy and aspirations to attend law school, Pamela sees the NRDC internship as an ideal opportunity to gain exposure to the legal field, increase her environmental advocacy knowledge and engage directly in environmental initiatives. “I look forward to this opportunity to investigate my interests further and execute real work in law, environmentalism and policy that has real effects on people’s quality of life.”
National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Pamela follows in the footsteps of another alumni, Tyler Garber (class of 2010), who was ECHS’s first NRDC intern last summer. “Interning at the NRDC exposed me to many different facets of the extremely diverse environmental law field. It was an invaluable experience that inspired me to see environmental law through a social justice lens and, as such, has influenced my continuing pursuit in law with an emphasis in advocacy. Post graduation, I intend on gaining some additional experience in law, and subsequently attending law school.”
Alumnus Shamms Khalil (class of 2010) currently works with the STEM-UP initiative in the East LA community of Boyle Heights. “The program enables students from elementary and middle schools to explore the fields of science, one of those being environmental science. As the country is at a shortage of STEM careers, it is our job to get kids more interested in science, technology, engineering and math so they may one day pursue careers that fall under these categories,” says Shamms.
“What compelled me to work with this program is the chance to share my knowledge and passion of science with these kids in hopes that they also might find a passion in these fields as I did. As an ECHS alumnus, I have had the chance to explore the world of science hands on and that has been the factor that has pushed me to further increase my knowledge of the science field.”
“I really hope that working with these kids will have an impact on them,” Shamms continued. “Nothing makes me happier than returning to these schools and seeing these children’s faces light up when they see my STEM-UP uniform – knowing they’ll have a chance to step out of the regular classroom environment and into our fun-filled science studio. I had some of the most inspirational leaders when I was coming out of school and I hope that I can be that for these students.”
Shamms is working toward a Bachelor of Science degree in Bio-Psychology with his sights set on one day attending medical school.
Congratulations to all our interns and here’s to a great summer!