Uncategorized, Undergraduate Programs

Elevating My Passions with Political Science

Three people with their heads sticking out of a square photo frame cut out with the words Salmon hand painted on it.

Hello, I am Celia Darling, a junior here at Clarkson. I am studying Political Science with minors in Environmental Science, Environmental Policy, and Anthropology. In the 2+ years, I’ve spent here, I’ve been able to experience so many unique and awesome opportunities that are related to my passions. Not only have I been able to grow and dive more into my passion for protecting the Earth, but I have also been able to learn from so many different disciplines. I have had so many opportunities here at Clarkson University. I am able to go home and share with everyone I know that here at Clarkson I get to do wonderful things, learn innovative ideas, and share my passions all while studying political science at a well-known STEM school! 

I have a passion for protecting the Earth!

I did a lot of environmental organizing in high school, so pursuing a degree in Political Science with environmental minors just made sense. My degree is very customizable and I love that about Clarkson! 

I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up but I’m not particularly worried. Clarkson has given me so many opportunities that I know I’ll be able to feel confident applying to practically any job I’d have interest in. I would like to work in the nonprofit sector in some sort of environmental work, perhaps environmental education or organizing, or I would like to work in sustainability planning. 

I am planning on staying at Clarkson for my master’s in Environmental Policy (hopefully a 3+1). Even leaving Clarkson with just my undergraduate degree and experience I would feel very confident going into the workforce.

How I found Clarkson

I am from Rochester, NY, and love being here in Potsdam! 

To be honest, Clarkson was my 14th choice of the 14 schools I applied to. It should have been my first. I’m so incredibly happy here. 

I was offered an Ignite Presidential Fellowship Scholarship to Clarkson and that really brought it to the top of my pile. This amazing scholarship — paired with such cool opportunities for people interested in the Earth and taking action — just made the decision to attend Clarkson make sense. 

I was the youngest person at my summer internship with 14 recipients (there were 400 applicants, I was the youngest in the program and one of the few not pursuing a master’s degree). That’s a testament to Clarkson. 

A hand holding a baby seedling into the light in front of two women smiling

While we are not known for political science, I feel like we should be. The professors are outstanding, the coursework is interesting and there are so many opportunities on campus. College is absolutely what you make it. 

My aunt is a professor at another university so she has met a lot of college students and she always tells me “Celia, I have never met someone who has made more of their college experience than you.” That’s what you can do at Clarkson, make your political science degree really what you want.

Being involved

There is no shortage of ways to become involved on campus or in the area. The farmers market that happens downtown is always a fun place to stop for a visit. You have access to the Adirondacks as well — endless opportunities! There are so many really cool thrift stores, and food options — I love the food co-op. The Village of Potsdam has many events that fill the air with quaint live music you can either go to or hear from campus. 

I am the President of the Sustainability Club! In the Sustainability Club, we take tons of environmental action on campus and in our Potsdam community. We currently run the “Take It or Leave It” table in the student center which encourages sharing and thrifting to reduce and recycle! We host plant swaps, help with the compost program on campus, we are running a first-year cup sustainability scavenger hunt, and host Earth Week every spring. A super awesome club for all majors to join!

A women with out stretched arms showing 4 stacks of green compost bins

I am also on the Honors Steering Board as the Historian. I take pictures at honors events and run their social media pages, so feel free to check those out! If for some reason you can’t find a club that speaks to you and what you need you can also create clubs! I am the Co-president and founder of Peace Action. In Peace Action we discuss peace and social justice issues that affect the world. We host paper crane-making and social justice chats, peace trivia night, and a webinar exploring a peace and social justice topic each semester.

Professional Opportunities Abound here at Clarkson

As I said earlier there is no shortage of opportunities here! I am a Food Waste intern with the ISE office (Institute for a Sustainable Environment). I have been able to work on the initiative to divert all of Clarkson University’s pre-and post-consumer food waste from landfill. This has been a full-circle project where I work to educate faculty, staff, and students about the programs. I am working on plans and implementation to revitalize apartment composting. I have been able to build professional relationships throughout this program by creating relationships with Whitten Family Farm to help compost. 

In addition, I work with IMPETUS as a Communications Intern. IMPETUS (Integrated Mathematics and Physics for Entry To Undergraduate STEM) provides science, math, and engineering opportunities for middle and high school students in underserved communities. As their Communications Intern, I develop monthly newsletters, grow and maintain their social media presence, and create content for all of their platforms.

A women holding a cut out of a fish that is painted it has AYEA and a image of a globe with a heart on it

I Interned in Alaska this Summer

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to serve as the Youth Leadership Intern at the Alaska Center. I worked with their program AYEA (Alaska Youth for Environmental Action) which inspires and trains young Alaskans to take environmental action on self-led campaigns and projects. To reiterate, it was amazing!

I started out the summer helping plan a revamp webinar where we collected insight from past AYEA teens, trainers, and adults on how to make AYEA the best it could be. Next, we planned a climate-themed camping trip so that younger students from Trailside Discovery Camp (an Alaska Center program) could see what AYEA was about and get excited to take environmental action. On the trip, teens kayaked, biked, participated in a beach clean-up, and created environmental manifestos based on a curriculum I developed. 

Throughout the summer I led 3 sessions of training to empower 75+ youth. I created TikToks for the Alaska Center. I worked to encourage folks to make salmon handprints on why to #StopPebbleMine. I got the opportunity to help plan the AK Center’s Wild Salmon Day Celebration. 

While at my internship I reached out to other organizations expanding AYEA’s network and educating Alaskans about ranked-choice voting. Finally, I organized a Climate Art Tour of the Anchorage museum paired with an Advocacy Workshop focused on testimony I created.

I learned so much about the Alaskan political landscape (Pebble Mine, ranked-choice voting, etc) and working in advocacy in general. It has solidified for me that I want to continue working in the environmental advocacy space! It’s very rewarding to work saving the Earth professionally. As someone who was an environmental advocate as a teenager my favorite part of this experience was to be inspired and learn from Alaskan teen change-makers! I want to thank the Alaska Conservation Foundation for funding my experience through the Ted Smith Conservation Internship Program and express my gratitude to everyone at The Alaska Center for being so kind, cool, and inviting, and for doing such impactful work every day!

A person standing with a mountain range in the background

Living in the Adirondack Park for an Entire Semester- AKA, ADK Semester!

I got to live in Adirondack Park for an entire semester! It was amazing to live, study and research in the largest park in the contiguous states. The Adirondack Semester is a 15-credit, off-campus domestic study program for undergraduates pursuing an experience that is enriching both academically and culturally. Where students from any major would like to focus on and learn about environmental science. Policy, economics, and the human history of the Adirondack region are immersed in it all!

My project was on Aquatic Connectivity in the Adirondacks. It was my favorite thing I have done at Clarkson. I got to do a deep dive on dam and culvert policy for our project. I met my best friends on ADK Semester and got to play in the ‘Dacks so much. I would recommend it to every student in any major, especially Political Science majors.

Making Connections

It’s so easy to make connections here at Clarkson. From staff and faculty to students, everyone is so friendly! I love being in a department with such a low faculty-to-student ratio, it’s absolutely amazing. I can say that all of my professors are so happy to advise me and want me to succeed. It is a good thing that when I need a letter of recommendation, there are so many people that are willing to write a personalized letter for me. Professors really get to know you. After my internship this summer they all remembered and asked me so many questions about my experience. I cannot say enough good things about them. 

The faculty and staff really care about the students here at Clarkson. They are constantly checking in on our mental health and in general help to advise us on being a well-rounded person with academic, personal, and professional advice! I could have an endless list because the people at Clarkson really make it an amazing place.

Clarkson University, specifically in the School of Arts and Sciences is a place that molds your education to you and who you want to be! You come in with a passion and leave with all the tools you will need to create an impact in your desired fields. I am so excited I get to surround myself with these educational opportunities and amazing people! 

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