Student Spotlight- Cheryl Winfield
Hello, hello! My name is Cheryl, I was born and raised in Northern California, and spent most of my childhood living on a working 115-acre Cattle Ranch. I developed an interest in the environment at a young age and I distinctly remember my first trip to California's EPA building for their annual "Bring Your Kids to Work" event with my Uncle. I took the "scenic route" through my undergrad degree, attending Chico State University for 3 years then Sacramento State University for 3.5 years, and completed over 200 units. I graduated in Spring of 2020 with a degree in Civil Engineering (focused on Water Resources and Environmental Engineering) and a minor in Mathematics.
I am currently employed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as an Air Resources Technician, working part-time during the school year, and full-time during the Summers. I was hired in 2019 and joined the Diesel Programs Branch of the Enforcement Division, where I helped regulate heavy-duty diesel engines (like semi-trucks, cranes, drayage trucks, off-road equipment, etc.) across the state. In 2021, I transferred to the Air Quality Planning and Science Division and now I work in the Community Air Quality Section at CARB. I assist a team of Air Pollution Specialists and Air Resources Engineers who are developing a mobile-friendly state-of-the-science Air Quality Portal - called AQview - in accordance with AB 617.
In my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends and family - especially my baby niece. I also enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities; including hiking, camping, attending concerts/music festivals, and chasing waterfalls. I'm also an athlete; I still play softball regularly on an adult rec-league, and go wake-boarding/water-skiing every Summer.
Can you talk about your experience in the program and also working part-time?
Working part-time as a full-time grad student is a lot of work, but also incredibly rewarding. My favorite part of the Environmental Policy & Management (EPM) program is our diverse community of students and faculty. I feel like I'm among "my people" so to speak. We all have unique backgrounds and experiences that have shaped our perspective; and my career with CARB is definitely a big part of mine. A large part of being able to juggle school, work, and life is time management. I started bullet journaling towards the end of my undergrad degree, and found that it was a great tool to help me organize my busy life. The bullet journaling gives me a creative outlet to make a planner that is customizable to my ever changing and busy schedule. The cool part about working for an environmental agency while studying environmental policy, is that my real-life experience often benefits a school project or paper; and vice versa! A great example of this comes from Tracy Winsor's ENV 201: Environmental Law course, where my classmates and I acted as lawyers in a mock negotiation: CARB vs. Biomassive (a made-up power generation company). I worked on the team representing Biomassive, and my working knowledge of CARB definitely helped our negotiation strategy and our team successfully negotiated terms that were agreeable to CARB's "lawyers".
As a professional coming back to school, how do you feel that this program will help you with your career objectives?
I think the EPM program will help me achieve my career goals in two main ways; first, the knowledge. I've already learned a lot in this program, but this "knowledge" is not exclusive to our lecture materials - it's also everything I've learned from my cohort's experiences. I really enjoy hearing about their experiences, as well as being able to share my own, especially in a classroom discussion setting. Second, the networking opportunities with my classmates and faculty both within and outside of the program, as well as the hands-on experience working with clients through the ENV 203: Environmental Policy Clinic course.
What extracurricular activities are you involved in and why do you think they're important?
I was an event coordinator for the Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP) student chapter for the 2020-2021 school year, and attended some of the EPM Social Committee meetings. I will also be the vice president for the AEP student chapter for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. I also recently learned UC Davis has a student Engineers Without Borders (EWB) group which I plan to join this year. I think extracurricular activities are important as they expand your experiences and increase your opportunities to meet new people. They are also a great way to interact with your classmates outside of class, as well as potentially meet students from other programs.
What is a piece of advice you would give to incoming students as they're choosing electives?
My advice is to follow your gut! If an elective seems interesting to you or speaks to you, then take it. But also don't be afraid to ask questions - talk to an advisor, one of our awesome EPM faculty members, or our program coordinator Jessica - there are many people here happy to help!
What's a fun fact about yourself?
I attended a small charter school with a curriculum emphasis in the arts for grades 7 through 12 (six years). I studied a wide range of art from: painting and drawing, photography, graphic design, piano, jazz dance, and more! My favorite part to share though, is that I participated in tap dancing for 5 years during my time there, and even performed with my tap class at Disney's California Adventure Park.