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Featured Alumna: Alayna Linde

Alayna Linde is a recent 2013 graduate of the Environmental Studies Master’s program, and she is the first to admit to “taking full advantage of the ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ aspect of the program.” With courses in sociology, international studies, non-profit management, and PPPM (Planning, Public Policy and Management), her course load was neither repetitive nor, from the outset, entirely predictable.

alaynaFrom a personality standpoint, she believes that this meshed well with the way she learns from and interacts with the world, given that she thinks her “brain’s default setting is somewhere between one or more disciplines.” Alayna came to the University of Oregon with a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, but she had also volunteered with an environmental non-profit and was interested in expanding her toolbox when it came to addressing environmental concerns. This ultimately led to degree concentrations in sustainability and affecting social change, with a decidedly non-chemistry lean towards communication work. She believes that her varied academic interests were critical in this development: “even the pursuit of inderdisciplinarity,” she recalls, “can result in good conversations of people listening to other points of view, which I think is a huge part of good communication.”

Alayna know the value of good communication. Her thesis work took her to China with three other ENVS students and the UO Chinese Philanthropic Leadership Association, were she used interviews to examine the use and usefulness of water pasteurization indicators. “Were I to do it all again,” she half-jokes, “I’d devote two years solely to the study of Mandarin, preferably in the community of my intended work, before attempting field research. But I knew that going in!” Such communication hurdles did offer interesting lessons in how to confront them: “I was fortunate to have wonderful Chinese interpreters and friends, and a supportive and motivating support team of advisers and committee members to help me make something of my limited research.”

Nowadays, she puts her skills to work with EnviroIssues, a communications and public outreach consulting firm based in Seattle. As a project coordinator, she supports the outreach work for clients such as the Washington State Department of Ecology, King County Department of Transportation, and Puget Sound Energy. Here again she sees value in varied experiences and a broad background: “At EI, people come from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds. This contributes to a collaborative work environment where you have different voices and perspectives working toward common goals, so I think my time in the interdisciplinary ENVS program was a good primer. Moreover, the critical thinking skills, research techniques, advanced writing, and time in front of a classroom as a GTF demanded of me as an ENVS student have served me very well for my work as a consultant.”

Read about other Environmental Studies Program students and faculty members here.