Alumni | Geography, Environment, and Sustainability

Environment & Sustainability Program


Drew Bigelow

M.S., Sustainability & Environment, UNCG, 2022

B.A., Anthropology, UNCG, 2020

B.A., Environmental Studies, UNCG, 2020

Why the Environment & Sustainability Program? Drew started her undergraduate career as an anthropology major, but added environmental studies as a second major because it allowed her to meet existing degree requirements while also encouraging exploration of connections between human society and the environment. Drew decided to continue her education at UNCG through the MSSE, because the program was online and “there is no other program out there that combines physical science and social science perspectives quite like this one does.”

Favorite aspects/courses? Drew says, “I enjoyed GES 602 and GES 605 for their content, delivery and instructional design. I found these courses to be both practical in use and highly relevant to my interests surrounding human geography, planning and sustainable development. I also really enjoyed GES 697–my  capstone course–because it was fully customizable and allowed me to focus my research on regional planning and resilience. At the culmination of this capstone course, I successfully delivered a 52 page research report and presentation titled Regional Resilience: Theory and Practice. It is thanks to the research that I conducted for this capstone course that I have been given the opportunity to pursue a career in geographic planning.

What’s next? Shortly after she graduated, Drew was hired as a Planner for the City of Reidsville. She says, “This position is directly relevant to the coursework and research I conducted while in the MSSE graduate program. In this position I  work with the community and development department to oversee a variety of issues related to zoning, land use and urban development.” 

Jamie Phelps

PhD, Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, 2023

B.A., Environmental & Sustainability Studies, UNCG, 2019

B.A., Biology, UNCG, 2019

Why the Environment & Sustainability Program? Jamie was originally recruited to UNCG for soccer, but met Dr. Allen during her campus visit. After hearing the variety of courses offered in the program, ranging from backpacking to sea turtles to natural resource policy, the E&S program seemed a perfect fit for her career goals. 

Favorite aspects/courses? Jamie says, “I really enjoyed the size of the program; I believe I met everyone in my cohort. My favorite course was ‘Wildness as a Teacher.’ We received lots of hands-on outdoor training. One of my favorite memories from UNCG is when our class took a field trip to Stumpy Point to learn about fisheries and the waterfowl of the Carolina bays. The instructors were all very encouraging and are one of the reasons I’m currently pursuing a PhD in Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University.”

What’s next? “I’m currently a PhD candidate at Louisiana State University in Biological Sciences. My work focuses on environmental cues for plasticity and the life history tradeoffs associated with plastic response. I hope to work for government agencies or NGOs to advocate for scientific policies and conduct research that informs policy.”

May Htun

M.S., Sustainability & Environment, UNCG, 2022

B.A., Environment & Sustainability, UNCG, 2019

Why MSSE? May chose the MSSE because it allowed her to customize her degree and gave her the flexibility to complete courses online asynchronously. She values the Program’s emphasis on the interconnectedness of all aspects of sustainability, which she believes will give her a unique perspective in her future career.

May has particularly enjoyed classes that focus on the society and equity aspect of sustainability. For her final project, she completed a transportation internship with the City of Greensboro. Ultimately, May looks forward to a career in a conservation-based nonprofit.

To future students, May advises: “While the program is delivered in an asynchronous format, you need to have proper time management skills to balance coursework and other activities.”

Breanna McBryde

M.S., Sustainability & Environment, UNCG, 2022

B.S., Nutrition, UNCG, 2020

Why MSSE? After becoming interested in sustainability as an undergrad at UNCG, Breanna wanted to stay at the University to continue her education through the MSSE. 

Pros & cons: The diversity of course offerings and content keeps Breanna engaged in her work. But, adjusting to a completely online degree program has been a challenge, especially when it comes to communicating with classmates.

She completed an internship at the Deep Roots Market, a community-owned grocery store located in Greensboro, NC. Breanna hopes to continue this work in food security and food deserts.

Julia Hanagan

M.S., Sustainability & Environment, UNCG, 2022

B.A., Sustainable Development, Appalachian State University, 2020

Why MSSE? Julia was drawn to the Program’s unique definition of sustainability and diverse course offerings.

Building a community within the Program is important, though the online modality poses unique social challenges. She says, “It’s been fun to learn from the other students. They have taught me new things and made me think about ideas in a new light. It’s been rewarding having classes with people who are just as passionate as you.”

Julia advises future students to not be afraid to reach out to professors, because they want to see students succeed.

Through her final project as an education intern at the Greensboro Science Center, Julia made professional connections and explored the realm of environmental education.

Julia is now working as an AmeriCorps member at FEMA in California!

Mary Miller

M.S., Sustainability & Environment, UNCG, 2022

B.A., Liberal Studies, UNCG, 2019

Why MSSE? Along with her interests in sustainability, the online modality and flexibility of the MSSE drew Mary to the Program. 

Pros & Cons: Mary says, “I enjoy the teamwork assignments and the discussion posts because they help develop a sense of community.” However, the occasional delays in feedback and communication can pose a challenge in a fully online program.

Making a difference in their local community is a reality for Mary, who initiated a community composting operation in Transylvania County, NC, for her final project. She is hopeful that through public education about food waste and climate change, the composting program will be a step towards a zero waste community.