This time, about two years ago, I was in the middle of a transition. I was excited, mostly terrified, and extremely uncertain if I was making the right decision. I had just moved away from my home of over a decade. I resigned from my dream job as a Wildlife Biologist. It was a bittersweet and difficult decision. I was leaving a permanent, full-time federal government position to follow an ‘inner calling’. I applied to Antioch University Seattle for graduate school as a step forward. I sent 73 emails to the directors of the Urban Environmental Education Master’s program in the process of applying, trying to make up my mind to ‘jump’. After being accepted, I moved to Seattle and embarked on an educational journey to prepare me for a career transition. I knew WHAT I wanted but was afraid that I wasn’t ready.
I graduated full of joy and with the hope and optimism that I could make a difference in this environmental field, for this planet, and for people! I loved being a biologist, but I knew I needed to do more. I knew my heart was invested in environmental education. As an educator, I will bring awareness to environmental issues, bridging the gaps between communities that have been historically separated, marginalized, and often, erased in the pursuit of environmental justice. Through relationship-building and ‘diversifying by demystifying’ the outdoors, I will be a visible role model for the little black girls who may have had their ‘lights’ dimmed by the perception and unfair and unjust disproportional representation of people of color in the environmental field.
Two years after entering graduate school, I have accepted a position as Education and Outreach Coordinator for Waste Management and am back working with Seattle Parks and Recreation supporting the Trails Program. I couldn’t be more excited. For anyone in the midst of, thinking about, or a bit fearful of a transition – just do it!
Denaya Shorter is a graduate student in our Urban Environmental Education program.