FAQ: Ask a Current Student!


Answered by Graduate Assistant Amanda Namsinh 4/15/2020; first year concurrent EVSS/MPA student (Cohort of Fall 2019) 

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. I'm starting an internship soon and also making it into my thesis. Many of my EVSS friends have formally started their internships/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 Kelli Coleman as she is currently working on her research 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?

My favorite part of the concurrent program is the transdisciplinarity. I took the Master of Public Administration program core requirement "Public Sector Roles and Responsibilities" my first semester in Fall 2019. A lot of the overarching concepts, such as public service motivation and addressing bias, in MPA translates to many of the social science aspects of environmental science. I took a EVSS Special Topics course with Dr. Watson, the program director, called "Managing Resilient Landscapes," that discussed how to pursue not only ecological resilience, but also social resilience. These two classes were my favorite because they took my preconceptions of public service and environmental management to a different level and evolved my perspectives and understanding.

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

I have a lot of research background from my undergraduate career, I was in two labs: a chemistry lab and a geography lab. I knew that I wanted to do community/stakeholder engagement in a coastal context because of my experience in my geography lab working on a citizen science project. I actually met with a potential advisor (Dr. Susan Lovelace, Assitant Director of Development and Extension at SC Sea Grant) during my visit before enrolling into the program. Though everyone in the office reassured me I had plenty of time, since the concurrent program gives allows you 2 semesters to get that sorted (as opposed to the one semester that EVSS students have). I knew with my experience, interests, and previous knowledge that Sea Grant would be an organization that I wanted to work with. Now the specifics of thesis work has developed during my time here due to various funding opportunities and gauging compatibility with potential advisors and their interests. I am now hired as an intern with SC Sea Grant for their marsh restoration citizen science program, From Seeds to Shoreline®.

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

There are approximately 70 active students in the EVSS program, so not too small but not too large. Since I work in the EVSS office and I'm only taking 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 earth sciences 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.

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

This program has already given some of the skills and tools I want/need for my career path. Many classes are built to expose you to new insights, methods, and worldviews that boost your capacity to work in public services and tackle large problems like policy change or socio-ecological resource management. There are countless extracirricular opportunities offered all the time, it's just a matter of logistically being able to do everything you want to do.

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. I'm a SC native so I sort of knew a bit about Charleston before from vacationing. 

EVSS Student Mentors

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

Kelli Coleman

Kelli Coleman

Kelli (colemankm@g.cofc.edugraduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in Biology in 2017, and joined the Concurrent Program in August 2018. After graduating from Ole Miss, she spent a year doing AmeriCorps in Knoxville, TN where she served at Keep Knoxville Beautiful. She was a Graduate Assistant in the EVSS office for 2018-2019 and is familiar with program details. Her current research interests include the effectiveness of environmental education programs in Charleston. Kelli works as a Research Assistant with the SC Department of Natural Resources in their Marine Coastal Discoveries education program. She loves watching students experience the environment and teaching about the importance of environmental stewardship.  

Nicole Pehl

Nicole Pehl

Nicole (pehlnc@g.cofc.edu) graduated from North Carolina State University in 2016 with a degree in Marine Science and a minor in Environmental Science. Nicole joined the EVSS program in the fall of 2018 and is currently a graduate assistant for the EVSS office and for the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences office. While she has broad research interests, including marine conservation and environmental policy, she is pursuing a thesis project focused on the ecologic and economic implications of the South Carolina aquatic turtle trade. Nicole chose the EVSS program because of its dual focus on environmental science and environmental policy and the diversity of the curriculum.


Amanda Namsinh

Amanda (namsinha@g.cofc.edu) received her bachelor’s degree in marine science at the University of South Carolina in 2018. During her undegraduate career, she studied in Dr. Howie Scher's geochemical paleoceanography lab that investigated the radiogenic isotopic composition of deep sea sediments to serve as a paleoclimate record. After graduating, Amanda was employed for a year at the University of South Carolina as a lab manager for Dr. Scher and a teaching assistant for the School of the Earth, Ocean, and Environment. She enrolled into the EVSS/MPA concurrent program in 2019 to pursue a career in environmental management. Her research interests include coastal science and policy that promotes social, economic, and environmental resilience. 

Haley Schanne

Haley Schanne

Haley (schannehj@g.cofc.edu) graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Marine Biology, and joined the Concurrent Environmental and Sustainability Studies/Public Administration program in January 2018. She is a current Graduate Assistant in the Graduate School office. Her research interests concern nonprofit impacts on environmental management of harbors. Haley spent a year as a member of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps outside Baltimore, Maryland working for a nonprofit nature center. Currently, she is working on formulating an applied research project involving an analysis of two harbors to measure the impact of the nonprofit sector on harbor sustainability.  

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