Q&A with Marin Kelly (BA ‘21)

Headshot of Marin Kelly

What did you study and why did you choose your major and minor? 

I am graduating with a BA in biology, society & environment (BSE) and a minor in sustainability studies. I have always loved the outdoors, and growing up, I knew I wanted to do something related to biology and the environment. 

When I transferred to the University my sophomore year, I chose to major in BSE because I wanted to learn more about the ways that humans both impact and are impacted by the world. This requires a thorough understanding of the hard sciences and the social sciences and humanities, something that BSE has allowed me to explore. The BSE major has given me a more intersectional understanding of the complex social, environmental, and economic challenges societies face and has prepared me for a career that will help to solve these challenges.

Have you received any scholarships? How has that support made a difference in your education?

As an undergraduate leader with the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, I received an Ecolab Experiential Education Scholarship. Overall, this support and recognition have meant a lot to me. This scholarship has shown me that the work I have done as a student and as an undergraduate leader is valued. It has also allowed me to continue my studies at the University while taking some financial stress off of myself and my family. 

How have your experiences outside of the classroom enhanced your studies and career goals? 

During my junior year, I studied abroad with the School for Field Studies in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Through courses, fieldwork, and community engagement, I learned about the various environmental threats the Bocas community faces, including biodiversity loss, climate change, impacts of tourism, and ecosystem and natural resource degradation. Although my study abroad program was cut short due to the pandemic, I loved living and learning within a community and culture completely different from my own. 

Seeing and experiencing first-hand the environmental impacts throughout Bocas del Toro has made me even more passionate about chasing a career that creates more sustainable and equitable societies. I also think that studying abroad has deepened my desire to travel and serve as a Peace Corps volunteer after graduation. 

What advice do you have for freshmen looking to explore your major? 

Don’t be afraid to branch out with your coursework and take what you are passionate about! The BSE major was designed to give students the opportunity to study the hard sciences as well as the social sciences and humanities. I’ve taken some really fun and interesting courses during my time as a BSE student that have been related to my interests and given me a unique perspective on complex societal issues, for example, Monsters, Cyborgs, Robots & Zombies, Photography, and Art & Ecology.

What are your plans after graduation? 

After graduation, I am hoping to be accepted to serve in the Peace Corps. My application for a position in Zambia working on sustainable agriculture and forestry through their Linking Income Food & Environment program is under review. If accepted, I would depart for service in early 2022. 

I also hope to eventually go to graduate school and find a career related to environmental studies and creating more sustainable and equitable communities.

What would you say has been your greatest achievement in college? 

Graduating! It’s been a tough year for all of us given the pandemic. However, I think that being able to graduate and survive such an unconventional learning environment is something to be proud of. 

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