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Student Spotlight- Christina Harrington

Hello there! My name is Christina and I was born and raised in Altadena, a suburb of the greater Los Angeles area. I completed a B.A. in Environmental Studies at Seattle University in 2015 and then spent several years working, volunteering, and taking more courses at a community college. This time spanned a diverse landscape of work - I designed and installed irrigation systems at a botanical garden, organized community events centered around public lands protection, and designed community engagement programs for LA Metro. These seemingly disparate experiences and the supportive mentors I met along the way exposed me to a recurring theme of how systemic barriers create the very environmental issues our efforts are trying to address. This solidified my intention to leverage environmental policy as one way to support environmental justice.

What is your favorite EPM class that you've taken so far and why?

If I have to select one, it would be our professional development seminar. The professors invite different working professionals every week to share about their background and work in a variety of environmental fields. Hearing from lawyers, ocean advocates, data scientists, and others has been a great way for me to peek into what that career is like and reflect on whether I could see myself doing something similar. Having over an hour with each of these experts quickly expands your network, which is always a plus.

What drew you to choose UC Davis when you were considering graduate school?

I applied to several schools with environmental policy programs, but UC Davis was my top choice. Being interested in sustainable agriculture, UC Davis was a no-brainer for me because of the university’s reputation and resources for agriculture. Beyond that, though, I was attracted to the breadth and variety of elective courses we can take. I was impressed by how responsive and personal the Program Chair at the time and Program Coordinator were. They personally called me to discuss the program, which I didn’t experience with any other programs I was accepted to. I thought it was a great reflection of how UC Davis would be invested in my success.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in and why did you choose to get involved?

Balancing coursework, an internship, and usual life stuff can feel challenging at times, but it’s important to me that I stay active, do non-work related things that bring me joy, and make connections with new people. I’m an Event Officer for the Association of Environmental Professionals, UC Davis Chapter, helping organize social and networking events that connect students with environmental professionals. I also got involved with building a garden on campus run by other LGBTQ+ graduate students and I play pick-up soccer as often as I can.

What are you working on for your Practicum Project?

I started my Practicum in January 2022 with the Office of Government and Community Relations at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). I’m assisting the Director with executing the organization’s main state advocacy event, which supports strengthening relationships and securing funding for UC research that supports farmers, ranchers, youth, and others in California. I’m also developing a policy analysis report focused on existing challenges for small, beginning, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to access federal and state programs, land, and other resources.

Working with UC ANR in this capacity is an interesting nexus between state policy and UC’s research in agriculture, natural resources, nutrition, and youth development. I’m a graduate of some UC ANR community programs (CA Naturalist and Master Gardeners), so it’s fun to be on the other side helping increase support for the organization at the state level.

For students who are applying and making decisions about attending graduate school now, what is one piece of advice you would give to them?

As someone who spent several years exploring various graduate programs, I recommend reaching out to students in the programs you’re interested in and hearing their perspectives. Particularly, it’s important to hear how supported they feel in the program, whether there are sufficient resources for them, what the cohort culture is like, and, of course, if they like the courses. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions!

What is a fun fact about yourself?

My parents would be offended if I failed to mention that I’m first-generation Irish. My parents and brother immigrated to California in the 1980s and our extended family continues to live (mostly in) Europe. I started learning Gaeilge (Irish) this past year and it’s been a fun way to connect with my parents and appreciate a threatened part of the culture.

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