CHANCE Romania
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Sydney Robinson

Liberal Arts Majors: English, Global and International Studies
Hometown: Frederick, Maryland
Experience Time: Summer 2022

Give us a brief summary of your experience?

Penn State students work with students from the University of Bucharest to study climate change and develop skills in navigating complex, inter-disciplinary challenges. The students visit research sites along the Danube River; work side-by-side with scientists to carry out undergraduate research on water issues confronting the waterway; and advocate for change with politicians, international agencies, and university leaders. By the end of the field practicum, students present potential solutions for the sustainability of the Danube River and Delta per the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (UN SDGs) at an international Undergraduate Research Symposium held at the University of Bucharest.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience challenged me academically through research and group work. It helped me expand my understanding of topics such as ethical consumption, international politics, and how many stakeholders are required to work together to make a change. I also learned research and analysis techniques surrounding GIS and spatial analysis. Finally, I gained interpersonal skills due to the small group work and exposure to different cultures. This includes selecting virtual meeting times that are fair for people on both sides of the world and the importance of making an effort to learn about a new culture such as through language or food.

"The sense of duty I gained for the environment has shown me that I must be an advocate in whatever space I’m in."

How will this experience impact your career goals?

This experience has taught me to stand up for environmental justice in whatever career path I pursue. Although I enjoyed learning about STEM, I probably will not pursue a career as a scientist. However, the sense of duty I gained for the environment has shown me that I must be an advocate in whatever space I’m in. This could be advising my future company to buy solar panels or becoming an environmental lawyer. It is on all of us to take care of the Earth that takes such good care of us.

How has the College of the Liberal Arts helped you to find and/or succeed in this experience (e.g., adviser, faculty, staff, enrichment funds, etc.)?

The College of the Liberal Arts provided enrichment funding that was essential to my participation in this program. I am truly grateful for the financial support that eased the economic burden of the international travel and similar expenses.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

The Paterno Fellows helped me attain this enrichment funding as well as helped the acceptance of my application. It was included on my resume to show my academic commitment. Although I am not a STEM major, the Paterno Fellows demonstrates my dedication to learning. The holistic education provided by the program created a unique perspective to bring to CHANCE Romania and all other opportunities

For more information on internships for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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