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Nia Padilla: Hometown Hero (An Interview)

by ericarunsamerica on November 17th, 2013

Hey Stony Brook!

Ever wonder where you’ll end up after graduation?

Environmental Humanities major Nia Padilla found herself wondering the same thing as she donned her RED cap and gown during graduation this past May.

Nia, always one to extend a hand to others (here at Stony Brook, as well as abroad…she helped to build clean water infrastructure for needy people living in Honduras this past winter!), left Stony Brook with the desire to help others, and the planet.

Just six months following graduation, Ms. Padilla has already accomplished so much! Recently, I conducted an interview with this superstar Stony Brook Sustainability Studies Program alum.

Erica Cirino: I spy…you eating with bamboo utensils…you must be involved in the Sustainability Studies Program here at Stony Brook! All jokes aside, when and why were you inspired to join the program?

Nia Padilla: I have always loved the environment, especially the ocean and marine mammals. I started college at Stony Brook Southampton where I was originally a Marine Vertebrae Biology major, but soon I switched to the Environmental Humanities program. I knew that I wanted a career that had a positive impact on others, something that I would look forward to everyday and loved wholeheartedly. That’s how I felt about the Sustainability Studies Program and I’m looking forward to finding that in a career.

EC: Freezing your toes off and screaming your lungs out at the 2013 Forward on Climate Rally in DC, breaking a sweat and getting some blisters building clean water infrastructure in Honduras, working on a Global Water Brigades project, relaxing on a tranquil boat trip on the Hudson aboard the Clearwater sloop…what would you consider as your “most memorable moment” here as a student in the Sustainability Studies Program?

NP: My most memorable moment was going to the Omega Institute with my fellow classmates and Dr. Heidi Hutner. We went to a Design By Nature conference and had a really wonderful weekend there. I can’t wait to go back!

EC: Sounds awesome! Have you worked on any interesting projects while enrolled in the program here?

NP: I’ve had a lot of eye-opening assignments and projects but my favorite would have to be the Aesthetic Inventory visual mimicry project I had in Dr. Marc Fasanella‘s EHM 201: Eco-Aesthetics in Art class. It was incredibly tedious at times but I was really happy and proud with how it turned out. It’s now hanging in the halls of the Sustainability Studies department!EC: I saw your Aesthetic Inventory project; you really did an amazing job on it. Yes, tedious would be a good word to describe that project…I am taking Dr. Fasanella’s Eco-Aesthetics course this fall, and I have just completed the assignment. But, like you said, it is a great project…we learned so much! So, now we know your favorite project…what was your favorite class?

NP: I can’t pick just one! Two of my favorite classes would have to be Dr. Heidi Hutner’s SBC 325: Environmental Literature and the Media class and WST102: Introduction to Women’s Studies class I took with Professor Ula Klein. In Heidi’s class, I had never read so many books in such a short amount of time; and it was challenging, but I enjoyed every single one. We also went on really amazing trips and met incredible people. The connections I made between that class and my women’s studies courses were astonishing. So many connections between the oppression of women and how we devastate the environment. I only wish that I could have taken more classes. I never knew how easy work could be when you really loved the material. Highly recommend dabbling in both!

EC: Agreed! Both topics are so incredibly interesting. But, now that you’re done with school, here’s the big question: where are you now?

NP: Right now I am finishing up working with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) for the season doing Hurricane Sandy recovery work in Staten Island, my hometown. I also work as a server at a local restaurant on Staten Island.

EC: Working in your hometown! That’s great. I remember when we were both in Dr. Jim Quigley‘s SBC 308 Environmental Politics class last fall learning about the SCA and their job opportunities available to students. And working at a restaurant? Busy lady! So cool to see things working for you. Do you have any other plans for the future.

NP: I don’t really know where I hope to be. I just hope that I’ll be doing something in the areas of human rights, sustainability, and the empowerment of women. If I can find something that encompasses all of these things, I’d be very happy.

Way to go, Nia. #supergreenstatus achieved.

See where the Stony Brook University Sustainability Studies Program can take YOU.

peace. love. run.



From → Erica

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