FAQ: Ask a Current Student!

FAQ

Updated by Graduate Assistant Sarah Haslinger October 2021; first year concurrent EVSS/MPA student (Cohort of Fall 2021) 

 

Below is a video of Graduate Assistants Sarah Haslinger and Cheyenne Cunningham answering some FAQs for the incoming students of Fall 2022!

 

Do you feel like there is a good balance in the program between coursework and more hands-on work, like internships or research?

The balance between coursework and extracurricular work is great for me. Presently, since I haven't solidified a thesis, most of my workload has been with my office graduate assistantship and coursework. Many of my EVSS friends have formally started their thesis work and some also work on top of that, so they have more of an even balance between workloads. I would ask someone like Sean Cannon, as he is currently working as a Graduate Assistant with SC Department of Natural Resources. 

What is your favorite aspect of the EVSS/MPA program? Do you have any favorite classes that you've taken so far?

Current EVSS/MPA student Alyssa Lundy says "My favorite thing about the concurrent program is how complementary my EVSS and MPA classes are to one another, which keeps me engaged and helps me make connections during class. I walk away from every single class with a better understanding of the challenges we are up against and ways we can address them. I love encountering real life examples of what we talk about in class! My favorite classes I have taken thus far are Cultures, Economies, and Environmental Governance (EVSS 679) and Land Use Law (EVSS/PUBA 535)." For more information on the concurrent program, you can reach out to Alyssa.

Did you know what you wanted to do for a thesis coming into the program, or did that develop while you were there?

Current EVSS Student Kayla Squiggins says she had experiences in undergrad that helped develop her research interests. "I first became interested in water quality when I performed research at Erskine detecting tetracycline, a common antibiotic, in simulated agricultural wastewater lagoons. After this research, I was an intern at a wastewater treatment plant, and I became interested in how chemicals are used to treat water along with the types of contaminants found in wastewater. When I joined this program and began living in Charleston, I noticed there were many flooding events, and I wanted to do a project that would help identify any emerging contaminants or address the water quality in stormwater." Kayla is currently working on her thesis project researching antibiotic resistant bacteria presence in stormwater within the City of Charleston.

While some students like Kayla have a clear idea of what there research interests are, many students do not have a clear idea of what they want to do for a thesis coming into the program. It make take a semester or two to learn what you're interested in and think of ideas for potential projects. My advice is to view our faculty directory and email professors who have similar interests as you. They might have some advice on projects happening in the area that you may be able to work on. Even if you email a professor and find they are not a perfect match with your interests, they may be able to direct you toward someone who could be more helpful.

Are there a lot of students in the program? What is the program like from a social standpoint?

There are approximately 80 active students in the EVSS program, so not too small but not too large. Since I work in the EVSS office and I'm taking mainly EVSS courses this semester, I'm in more contact with EVSS students. I engage with a few MPA students from classes, there's an unspoken divide that is not animus at all, but since I come from a science background it's easier to connect with EVSS people. However, being in graduate school is different socially than undergrad, since we have a lot more on our plate and professionalism is more important. I've befriended everyone in my EVSS cohort and I've met almost everyone in the EVSS cohort in the year ahead of me. We'll go out for drinks or have small parties. But a significant minority of students are married and/or have kids and/or have full time jobs--so I don't see those people very often. Our student association MESSA does a great job of organizing fun social events where you can hang out and get to know new people throughout the program, I'd highly recommend attending these events as a great way to make friends!

Do you feel like the program is preparing you for a career in your interest area?

"I definitely feel like the program is teaching me skills and providing opportunities to make connections that will help me as I pursue a career! If you are interested in a certain topic, project, or learning a specific skill, all you have to do is ask one of your instructors or program administrators and they can point you to information and opportunities. I feel very supported in my graduate school journey by my peers and professors alike!" -Alyssa Lundy, EVSS/MPA current student  

I've never actually been to Charleston... what is it like there?

Check out our whole webpage dedicated to this question here! Charleston is a beautiful, historic city located on a peninsula. I live in the historic district downtown and walk to work/school every day. My area doesn't flood badly--though there are many areas that do, I got lucky. I love living here because it's pretty walkable and that's great for my dog. Cost of living is pretty high when you live downtown, but to me it all evened out when I factored in gas, driving, and parking costs when living off the peninsula. There are suburban areas around Charleston that are a bit more affordable and more family oriented. I would say it's roughly 50/50 on students living in or outside of downtown. Many of my friends drive and pay for a garage spot or figure out unconventional ways to park--they make it work so it's not impossible. Most of the 2nd year students lived downtown their first year and then moved off the peninsula once they were well oriented. I'm planning on staying downtown though. I really recommend visiting if you can.


 

EVSS Student Mentors

Have more questions that we didn't answer above? Feel free to contact our current students that are more than happy to answer any of your questions!

 

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Sean Cannon (spcannon@g.cofc.edu)

"I graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2012 with a double major in Human Resources Management and Marketing and a minor in Environmental Studies. After graduating I worked in D.C. for a little under 2 years for Naval Facilities Engineering Command as a Resource and Allocation Program Analyst in the Environmental Business division. I then moved to Richmond, Va. and worked as an Account Manager for Coca-Cola until I moved to Charleston in 2020. I realized I wanted to pursue a career in the field of environmental science, so I enrolled in the EVSS program in the spring of 2021. I began the program as a Graduate Assistant for the CofC Student Gardens and this semester I transitioned to a Graduate Assistant at South Carolina Department of Natural Resources ACE Basin Coastal Training Program, which is part of the National Estuarine Research Reserves. My area of research is determining existing communication gaps and barriers that prevent homeowners from implementing stormwater retention pond landscaping best management practices. My research interests outside of my Graduate Assistantship include coastal resiliency, flooding, and learning how to utilize Geographic Information Systems (GIS)."

 

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Kayla Squiggins (squigginsk@g.cofc.edu) 

Kayla recieved her B.S. in Chemistry from Erskine College in Due West, SC. She first became interested in water quality when she performed research at Erskine detecting tetracycline, a common antibiotic, in simulated agricultural wastewater lagoons. After this research, she was an intern at a wastewater treatment plant, and became interested in how chemicals are used to treat water along with the types of contaminants found in wastewater. When Kayla joined this program and began living in Charleston, she noticed there were many flooding events, and wanted to do a project that would help identify any emerging contaminants or address the water quality in stormwater. For her thesis project she will be researching antibiotic resistant bacteria presence in stormwater within the City of Charleston while working with advisor Dr. Vijay Vulava.

 

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Alyssa Lundy (lundyar@g.cofc.edu)

"Hi everyone! I’m Alyssa, a second-year concurrent student from Myrtle Beach, SC. I work as a TA for the Biology department, and am the current MESSA Volunteer Coordinator. My research interests are community engagement, local governance, environmental justice, and sustainable development. I’m currently working on a project centered on living shoreline ordinances and nature-based solutions for coastal communities. After graduating I would love to find a role that allows me to shape environmental policy at the state or local level. Some of my favorite thing to do are thrifting, cooking new recipes, Alabama football, and catching a beautiful Charleston sunset!" 

 

Program Contact

EVSS Program
The College of Charleston
66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424
Phone: (843) 953-2000
Fax: (843) 953-2001
E-mail: MES Program