“Environmental Studies involves everything – from science and economics to policy and math. Combined with my double major in math, I feel like I can go anywhere I want and I’m not worried,” says Amanda Pruzinsky ’12.
Last summer she went to American Samoa, a South Pacific tropical island for a full–time paid internship. Amanda landed this job as a recipient of the prestigious Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship funded through the Office of Education in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The scholarship also provides monetary academic assistance for her junior and senior years in college.
In American Samoa, Amanda worked at the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the American Samoa Department of Commerce, and lived near her mentor in a house with four Hollings scholars. She produced a statistical Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and enjoyed giving tours of the Bay to official visitors.
“I learned a lot about adapting to another culture,” says Amanda. “Living in a U.S. Territory, I had to be mindful of particular word choices when I wrote and met with people.” After Samoa, she toured Australia and New Zealand and returned to NOAA’s Silver Spring, MD, headquarters to present her findings along with other Hollings interns.
“With Environmental Studies you’re not only helping people, but you’re also helping the whole world. I don’t just want a job to make a living. I really want to help people,” says Amanda, who has a minor in Earth and Planetary Science.
As a junior she interned for the Maryland League of Conservation Voters in Easton, MD, with help from Dr. Munson, Professor of Environmental Studies. On campus, she is President of the Student Environmental Alliance (SEA) and is mentored by Tara Holste ‘07 from the Center for Environment & Society.
It was Amanda’s first internship, sophomore year, that has influenced her senior thesis. The ten–week CANSAM Research program at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, exposed her to mathematical programs, 3D models, and a mathematical model to explain the spread of disease.
For her Senior Capstone Experience, she is designing a mathematical model to predict the spread of American foulbrood (AFB) syndrome that effects honey bees. This highly contagious bacterial disease can destroy entire honeybee colonies and remain viable for more than 40 years.
As an honors student, Amanda is a Douglass Cater Society Junior Fellow. She also holds three campus jobs including tutoring at the Math Center and running the film series.
After graduation she is considering working for NOAA or Teach for America. “I’m not one of those people who thinks that the first job I get is going to be my last. I just know I have to look around.”