Master of Environmental Studies

Alumni Profile

Shawna McGarry, MES 2007, Community Development & Policy

Shawna MacGarry, MES alumWhile working in the legal field, I dreamed of returning to school to learn more about the environment and discover ways that humans could live in better harmony with it. The MES program was attractive to me because of its combined focus on environmental policy and science. Once enrolled in the program, I really appreciated the range of educational backgrounds amongst the students and faculty. This made the task of examining environmental issues within their scientific, economic, political and social contexts much more feasible.

Another strength of this program is that students are free to explore different research methods for conducting their thesis projects. Using the Community Based Action Research method, I conducted a deeply rewarding thesis project on the Local Ecological Knowledge of flooding in my Seattle neighborhood. In-depth interviews with key long-term and active residents helped me to understand the drainage challenges present in the watershed and to connect with my community in a meaningful way. Ultimately, the findings were submitted to Seattle Public Utilities in order to inform their project on this issue.

As a result of the Environmental Policy Making elective and the time I spent in local meetings for my thesis, I learned that I wanted to get experience facilitating collaborative efforts among environmental stakeholders. This knowledge and the experience I gained conducting interviews for my thesis helped me to get a job with Ross & Associates Environmental Consulting, Ltd. in Seattle soon after graduating. As I begin my career in this field, I am grateful that I received such a broad and timely environmental education in the MES program.