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Kiana Said – Environmental Science


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Kiana Said – Environmental Science

By Sustainability Interns | March 7, 2015

Kiana Said

I graduated last year from the University of California, Riverside with a Bachelors of Science degree in Environmental Science, with an emphasis on Natural Sciences. With this major, I was exposed to many different environmental quality courses focused on air, water, soil, economics and policy. During my undergraduate education, and beginning in my junior year of college, I was able to intern at UC Riverside’s Office of Sustainability through the internships offered through the Green Campus Action Plan (GCAP). I owe my employment success post graduation to the Office of Sustainability for providing me with valuable knowledge, experiences, and resources to succeed in a field I am passionate about.

The goal of GCAP was to fund sustainable and environmentally friendly projects and initiatives on campus, for example the installation of the solar benches, and to fund three internships at the Office of Sustainability. Little did I know being selected as one of the interns for Fall 2012 would shape my hands-on experiences during college.

What did I learn as an Office of Sustainability intern?

I began interning at the Office of Sustainability as the Green Office Intern fall of my junior year. From the start, it was an incredible learning experience both professionally and being able to apply my studies to real world projects. I immediately got to work on the Green Office Certification Program. The Green Office Certification Program is the leading campus plan for creating sustainable practices in food, energy, purchasing, water, and waste in each office, classroom, and workplace. I would campaign this certification program to different offices and departments on campus through online and in person communication. Once I received responses, I would present the purpose and the goal of implementing a green office program to achieve a green office certification to the interested offices. We had several different responses; Some departments were very interested, but didn’t have the time, some asked if there was an incentive, and others where very interested and with these ones we were able to track their progress towards becoming green office certified. In particular, the Housing and Dining office was very involved in completing an initial audit. After their initial audit I created a checklist of best practices that would increase their green office certification rating. I replicated these tasks for various other participating offices.

After the fall quarter, I was promoted to Senior Sustainability Intern at the office. I was very thankful for this, because I knew I would be able to continue to work at a very motivating and positive environment at the Office of Sustainability, while also being able to expand my knowledge further than the environmental and social sustainability issues presented in the classroom. In addition to promoting and implementing the Green Office Program, one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of the internship was being the project lead for the Office of Sustainability’s Tobacco Free Campaign.

As project manager, I conducted qualitative and quantitative observations, implemented plans adhering to the protocol, collected data, and performed analyses on the reduction of tobacco waste on campus. The UC Tobacco Free Policy aims to improve the health and safety of all students and faculty by prohibiting the use of tobacco products. Initially, I recruited and managed volunteers on the process for collecting cigarette waste at the five major tobacco usage centers on campus, and also trained volunteers on what behavioral observations to make on tobacco users, pre and post protocol implementation. The quantitative data assessment required recording the amount of tobacco waste collected on each clean-up day, analyzing the differences in numbers among the three separate clean ups, and developing comparison reports of the findings to see the changes in results post protocol implementation. I realized many students did not fully recognize the implications of toxic tobacco waste, and the benefits of addressing this public health issue.

How did the Internship help me reach my goals?

Since graduating and completing my internship at the Office of Sustainability, I have been working full time at a company that supports regulatory compliance, corporate sustainability, and social responsibility initiatives. The knowledge I have gained from interning at the Office of Sustainability, and having John Cook (Director of Sustainability) as my mentor, with public speaking, project management, knowledge of the importance of sustainable behaviors and decisions, and balancing the internship with school work, has been invaluable to my employment opportunity and experiences post-college. I have been able to use a lot of what I learned at the Office of Sustainability. In particular, the ability to understand sustainability as an umbrella, and how it can be applied to many initiatives, whether it is with environmental health and safety compliance, or supply chain transparency. Also, I have been able to use my project management skills in my current job. I can’t imagine being able to take on these new roles without the helpful guidance I had during my internship.

I am forever thankful of the opportunity I was given to be an intern at the Office of Sustainability. Dr. Cook was always so helpful, positive, and motivating during my internship experience, and towards other interns as well. I always felt like I was truly contributing to Office of Sustainability’s goals and plans with both Dr. Cook’s and Ruby Gonzalez’s guidance and wisdom.

The internship has truly allowed me to reach my goals and give me that boost of knowledge and experience that has been so helpful to me post-graduation. I really enjoyed being part of the Office of Sustainability, alongside other interns, volunteers, and professionals that also shared the same passion of creating a sustainable campus through various projects. It made my college experience extremely fulfilling, and I highly recommend students to explore the opportunities that the Office of Sustainability offers. I am happy to say that working at the Office of Sustainability has inspired me to continue to take on professional roles in the future that support environmental conservancy.

Kiana Said

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General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Office of Sustainability
University Village
1223 University Avenue, Suite 200

Tel: (951) 827-1270
Fax: (951) 827-3890
E-mail: sustain@ucr.edu

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