Biomedical Sciences

Graduate spotlight: Denisse Guitarra

A month in the life of a Conservation Advocate in America.

Bee climate change sign
Photo by Denisse in Annapolis, MD as part of the Youth Climate Strike in March 2019.

Hello everyone, my name is Denisse. I am a recent 2018 MSc in Biodiversity, Wildlife and Ecosystem Health graduate from the University of Edinburgh.

American politics polarised

I recently began working as a Conservation Advocate for Audubon Naturalist Society based in the USA. This is a new position and a new career field for me but I am excited to be part of at this time. Why? Well, American politics are very polarized nowadays, but not all hope is lost as reflected in the proposals of the Green New Deal.

My job changes every day

My job is very strange and changes every day. One day, I am in the US Congress lobbying for clean water as part of a large coalition. Yet on a different day I'll be dealing with local government officials and perhaps seeing the formation of its first environmental coalition. Another day I am leading a bird walk in Spanish or teaching about micro-invertebrates at a local creek. Then there are in-person, phone or video conferences with other environmental NGOs or training. Another day I am making maps in ArcGIS and writing blog posts. Some days are field trips such as going to the recycling center or attending a local climate change youth march. But at the end of this first month, I realized everywhere I went, diversity was not equally represented.

If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together

Now that I'm getting more in-depth into local environmental politics, I see a lack of diversity in the environmental movement. This month has taught me that the environmental conservation movement is much more than just science. In order to solve climate change we must also take social, political and economic justice issues into consideration simultaneously. The challenges are great but one inspiring quote from an African proverb I heard this week at the Naturally Latinos Conference was, "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together."

My Edinburgh student experience

If I could, I would indeed re-take this amazing Master's programme, because it helped me to understand and see different perspectives on environmental issues across the globe. I think what makes this particular Master's programme so valuable is not only its time flexibility, but the knowledgable professors, as well as the diverse pool of students all of which are always engaged and willing to support one another. I think the biggest challenge I faced during my Master's program was completing my thesis but my thesis advisor was a great support all throughout the process. Due to the direction my thesis took at the end, I gained new technical and problem-solving skills which I am applying at my current job. I highly recommend this programme to anyone looking into entering the conservation field or even established professionals seeking to gain new skills.

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