Alumni Spotlight- Kelsey Haydon
Kelsey grew up in Northern California and Oregon and discovered her love for the environment at a young age, when she began volunteering at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum as an Interpretive Guide, giving presentations to the public on topics like pollution, invasive species, and climate change. She holds a B.S. in Energy Management and Design from Sonoma State University and an A.S. in Mathematics from Diablo Valley College. Kelsey graduated from the Environmental Policy and Management program with her M.S. in June 2020, where she specialized in Water Resource Management. Currently, Kelsey is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Graduate Group of Geography at UC Davis with the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior, where she plans to study climate change policy and environmental justice issues under Dr. Gwen Arnold.
Can you tell us a bit about why you decided to transition from the EPM program to a PhD program?
I realized that I was more interested in research and academia in general toward the end of my first year with the EPM program, which led me to shift from the 1-year track to the 2-year track so I could take more electives and pursue a specialization. Additionally, my experiences working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant over the past few years has made me far more interested in teaching and working with students, and is something I really enjoy doing!
What are your career goals and what part did the EPM program play for you in your path to achieve them?
I would not have considered pursuing my Ph.D. if I hadn’t attended the EPM program. My current career objectives are to work in academia as a researcher and professor. I would like to continue working on environmental justice issues and find solutions to help those communities that are most severely impacted by climate change.
My policy clinic project in particular allowed me to engage with research in a way that I hadn’t considered before. Our team’s project with the Delta Stewardship Council examined how Bay Delta communities in the San Joaquin Valley suffered under extreme heat events as a result of climate change. The project gave me insight into the type of research I could do as a Ph.D. student, which I found very appealing.
What extracurricular activities were you involved in during your time in the EPM program?
I was the co-chair of the EPM’s social committee during the 2019-2020 academic year, as well as the treasurer of the Association of Environmental Professionals. Currently, I am a member of the EPM diversity committee, and the president of the Association of Environmental Professionals. Extracurricular activities gave me the opportunity to engage with my fellow EPM members beyond the scope of classes. Additionally, working with AEP over the past two years has provided me with various opportunities to engage with environmental professionals and better my connections. I would highly recommend getting involved with extracurricular activities. It provides you the opportunity to give your input into what the EPM program is doing, and spend time with your cohort outside of class time.
What preparation did you choose to do during your time in the program that helped you move into a PhD program?
My policy clinic project was excellent practice for the kind of research I am interested in doing as a Ph.D. student. Additionally, I met with lots of professors and graduate students in the programs I was interested in at UC Davis to get their perspectives and determine what programs were a good fit for my academic interests.
What advice would you give to a future EPM student who isn't sure what path they want to take for their future?
Speak to as many people as possible! Your advisor, professors, and other students are all great resources for you to discover new paths you may want to pursue. I would also recommend taking courses in different departments - you can find potential career or academic options that you didn’t know about before.
What is your favorite hobby?
Playing Dungeons and Dragons! I currently am in a campaign with a few other EPM students, and it provides me with an excellent creative outlet.