Profile: Christine Svetkovitch, Class of 2000
I knew I wanted to work in the environmental field, but needed real experience to figure out what type of work I fit into. I also really wanted to move to the West Coast—so Evergreen was perfect for me on every level!
MES provided me with clarity on the importance of public service in my life. Being exposed to the important roles that are encompassed in environmental work, including industry, nongovernmental organizations, academia, government, and the private sector helped me figure out where I fit best and why.
The most important skills I learned were how to effectively relate to and work with others, even when we have completely different perspectives and agendas. In addition, I learned that every issue, situation, and problem has a number of solutions. Some are clear and others take a while to find. Knowing this makes even the seemingly most difficult challenges not as overwhelming as they might otherwise be. Figuring out solutions has even become fun for me.
I was blessed to meet the writer Terry Tempest Williams when she visited campus my first year at Evergreen and have been moved by her words ever since. I often pick up her books or words when I need a reminder of why I do what I do. I always find comfort in her words.
Thesis topic: The Precautionary Principle and Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxics
Christine’s advice for future students
Take classes that you may not have a natural knack for—those are the ones I probably learned the most from. Also, do as many different internships as possible. Learning what you enjoy and what you do not enjoy doing will help a lot when making future job decisions.
Life After Evergreen
The degree has helped me not only in getting new positions and learning new programs, but in being successful in the work I do every day. The interdisciplinary curriculum has become a part of how I think about issues I work on and has led me to approach topics holistically—economics, legal, health, science, and ethics all have a role in decision-making. Because of MES, analyzing issues comprehensively comes natural to me.
When I completed MES program, I moved to the Russian Far East and was a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years. I lived in and traveled to some amazing and truly remote natural areas. I focused on environmental education and community development projects in a couple small villages, one on an island in Lake Baikal.
When I returned to the United States, I moved to Portland, Oregon and eventually landed a limited duration position at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. I have worked there ever since in a number of programs focusing on policy and implementation of Oregon’s environmental laws.