McKenzie Schessl | St. Lawrence University Environmental Studies

McKenzie Schessl

McKenzie and turtle
Class year: 
2016
Major(s): 
Environmental Studies
Minor(s): 
African Studies
Hometown: 
Waterloo, NY
Activities: 
I was a member of the Environmental Action Organization (EAO), Habitat for Humanity, and the Rugby Team Club.

               Two of the reasons I was drawn to St. Lawrence University was the outstanding science programs and amazing study abroad opportunities. After Intro to Environmental Studies, I was hooked. Coming from a small agricultural town in the Finger Lakes, I have watched various issues surrounding water pollution and invasive species plague Seneca Lake. My education turned my passion for hometown issues into higher education and career goals in water pollution management. It was exciting as I took Water Pollution, Ecological Restoration, and Global Amphibian Decline and my passion and academics really began to align.

               I was accepted to participate in the Kenya Semester Program for my sophomore year. This experience was like no other, having never been out of the U.S. before and had the chance to travel to a country so diverse. My time in Kenya allowed me to experience a developing country‚Äôs techniques and capacity for environmental conservation by interacting with diverse cultures through numerous homestay and full immersion travel components. I was delighted to do an internship with Watamu Turtle Watch, a non-governmental organization, working towards sea turtle population and habitat conservation, community development, mangrove restoration, along with community awareness and involvement. This experience opened my eyes to marine issues and I discovered a love and passion for sea turtles and their survival.

               During my junior year, I was accepted to another abroad program, this time in Trinidad and Tobago. This living and learning experiences gave me more of a global perspective in how humans on a developing island nation mitigate pollution, climate change, and the effects of industrialization in fresh and marine ecosystems, visiting every region of the country. I had amazing opportunities to interact and have dialogues with local sea turtle conservationists. My two semesters abroad gave me insight, confidence, and a greater understanding of environmental issues both at home and globally.

               In my senior year I was engaged in research on the St. Lawrence Seaway with Carrie Johns and Sara Ashpole, both teaching in Environmental Studies. I studied particular pollutants, researching the  presence of microbeads in St. Lawrence River ecosystem.