Academics Blog

Global Environmental Change & Sustainability

Name: Tiffany Tembreull

Year: Class of 2012

Hometown: Lino Lakes, MN

Major: Global Environmental Change & Sustainability


Coming to Hopkins, I had it all planned out: I was going to be a biology major with an entrepreneurship minor on a pre-med course and go to medical school and become a pediatrician and keep small children happy and healthy for the rest of my life.  Obviously, as I am writing under Shriver the environmental sustainability major, plans have changed.  It only took me a half a semester here at the Hop to figure out that I really didn’t know what I wanted.  I was lucky to have taken a couple of environmental related classes here that led me down an academic path that truly fits me.  Officially, I am a double major in Global Environmental Change and Sustainability and Public Health (Natural Sciences) on a pre-med course. Yes, every time anyone asks me about my major, I have to smile and rattle off the long title just listed and just chuckle when someone asks how that’s going to fit on a diploma.  With that said, I couldn’t be happier with my current track.  (Photo: Shriver Hall, part of the beautiful Hopkins campus!)

Cindy parker bookGECS is the newest major on campus, so there aren’t many of us.  To me, this made the major even more appealing.  I am, at the very least, Facebook friends with all the students in the major.   Our advisor, Cindy Parker, is wonderful; she is very knowledgeable about our goals and what we want to get out of our education.  The coolest thing about this major, I think, is the fact that it crosses many disciplines.  Not only do I cover all of my distribution credits required for graduation simply by taking the required courses, but I am exposed to many different fields of study that I otherwise would not have experienced had I stuck with a biology major.  It overlaps fairly nicely with pre-med requirements, but is not centered around those courses.  I also really like that the course requirements offer lots of choices (i.e. ‘choose two of the following’ followed by a table of 4 or 5 courses).  Not only does it offer flexibility when trying to fit classes together (yes, sometimes time conflicts are unavoidable), but also allows you to choose a class that will really interest you.

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important issue in politics and everyday life as our precious Earth’s resources are being used at exceedingly high rates and respect for the SEXit competition environment by industries is often ignored (Can you say job security?).  There are numerous research opportunities in environmental sciences and alternative energy initiatives out there.  I recently applied for a summer internship through the EPA (keep your fingers crossed!).  On campus, there are many clubs and groups that deal with sustainability and the environment.  Recently, there has been a push to make our dining facility more environmentally friendly by buying locally, indicating which foods leave higher carbon footprints, offering vegetarian and vegan options, and reducing waste.  This is one of several initiatives on campus to increase sustainability (another is SEX:it, an annual competition of energy conservation between dorms on campus).  Currently, Gilman Hall is being completely renovated in an attempt to make it Mount Vernon more environmentally sound.

If all works out, I will graduate from Hopkins, spend a couple years doing Teach for America (a great program, check it out!) and go to medical school, I am looking into the Uniformed Services School of Medicine.  After which I will complete all the internship, residency, and possible fellowship requirements to become an OB/GYN.  I think I want to work in a women’s shelter, or do some sort of social work where I can use my M.D.  My plans for post-graduation have changed more than once, so this is only the latest aspiration.  Hopkins has opened my eyes to so many opportunities; I have trouble deciding which path is best for me.  But of course, that is what my many academic and professional advisors are for.Beach

The trick to having a great undergraduate experience here at Hopkins is not to build the best resume or follow the path that you think will make you the most money in the future, but to do something you truly love.  Find your niche, find what you’re passionate about, and follow that path.  Environmental Sustainability is my niche and I couldn’t be happier with it.


Click hereto access more information about the Global Environmental Change & Sustainability Undergraduate Program of Study.To further your exploration of this academic program and ask any question you may have of current students, be sure to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Academics: The Insider Perspective and the GECS question thread.