Environmental Policy & Management student Jayna

Student Spotlight- Jayna Lizama

Student Spotlight

Jayna Lizama

Hafa Adai! Hello! My name is Jayna Lizama and I am a first year EPM graduate student. I completed my undergraduate degree in Environmental Sciences at UC Riverside (go highlanders!) and I am incredibly grateful to continue my academic journey here at UC Davis. I look forward to more personal growth and opportunities to network with amazing people. I plan to pursue the environmental justice specialization due to my interest in community engagement, food justice, inclusive science communication, and the self determination of indigenous peoples. I hope to connect with organizations that promote sustainable wellness for historically excluded communities.
What has your experience been so far starting the program during the pandemic and being completely online/ through zoom?
I do prefer an in-person learning environment, however, I appreciate the genuine support from EPM faculty and my cohort. I am thankful to have met wonderful people in this department, despite it being through virtual means. I am also happy to have great housemates (also graduate students) who also lift the spirits up as well (shoutout to Rocio and Carol Lee). My emotions fluctuate; some days it feels like I got the hang of things and some days I struggle. With being new to the Davis area and adjusting to the remote learning dynamic, it can all seem overwhelming and stressful. I believe mental health and self care is so important, especially when navigating life during a pandemic. Check-in with your loved ones when you can, be gracious with yourself, and do your best. That is all you can do :)
What is one thing that has surprised you about the classes that you have taken so far?
I was pleasantly surprised with how discussion heavy my classes were. During undergrad, it often seemed like my sole purpose was to prove myself exam after exam. In the EPM program, I feel there is more room to discuss and engage with the material. With the articles and papers we read, I enjoy the opportunity to share ideas, encourage thought-provoking questions, and to challenge current perspectives.
What is one thing that you are looking forward to in your future in the program? (Other than being back on campus)
I am excited to learn more and to look back on this moment. I look forward to learning more from the people I interact with and from my specialization courses. I love how the program provides flexibility for you to take courses from other departments as well. Overall, I am excited to make meaningful connections.
What are your career goals and how do you think the program will help you achieve them?
My long-term career goal is to give back to my island community in Guam. I plan to move back to the motherland after I graduate with hopes to contribute to climate mitigation efforts and strategies. Due to personal experience and the existence of environmental racism, I am passionate about ensuring creative and healing spaces for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). I plan to work on environmental justice and wellness projects that center the voices of those who have been marginalized. I believe the EPM program will provide me with environmental management and science communication skills to add to my mental toolbox.
What is a piece of advice that you would give potential EPM students?
Your voice and talents are valuable. Sometimes it can feel nerve-racking to be in a new environment where people might have more work experience than you and/or more familiarity with the subject, but try not to feel like you don't have something to offer. You do!
What is one fun fact about you?
I love to dance. I danced ballet when I was 5 years old up until high school. I also have experience with Chamoru cultural dancing and hula. I am not active in any dance group currently, but I enjoy learning hip-hop choreography for fun. Mini dance parties in the living room are also nice.