Maria Grima recently graduated from Stony Brook University where she was a JFEW SUNY Global Affairs Scholar. She studied Environmental Studies with minors in Marine Sciences and Geospatial Science.
Maria has a keen interest in global environmental sustainability, and it is clear that is where her future will take her. We asked her about life as a JFEW Scholar and her plans for the future.
JFEW: What has been the most meaningful lesson you have learned or experience that you have had while in college?
MG: Confidence is key. Once you start believing in yourself, other people will start to! If this is something you have trouble with, start improving your self-care regimen. Doing nice things for yourself will help you love yourself more, even if you only start out by giving yourself enough sleep. When you're well-rested, you're able to focus on giving off fierce vibes instead of scrambling to remember all of your responsibilities.
JFEW: What accomplishment during your time in college are you proudest of?
MG: This is a tough one! I think it's probably the fact that I took advantage of all of the immersive learning experiences that I could. I attended field schools in the deserts of Kenya, on the water at Southampton, and in the rainforests of Madagascar. I was able to participate in the JFEW SUNY program and get exposed to the inner workings of the UN through field trips, guest speakers, and internships. Each experience built upon the previous, and I was able to graduate with a wealth of knowledge in both global affairs and environmental and marine science. Actually DOING things instead of just hearing about them gave me the ability to confidently say that I knew how to do something, and as I mentioned earlier, confidence is key!
JFEW: What’s the most important thing you learned by participating in the JFEW program?
MG: I can't even begin to explain all of the important things I learned through the entirety of JFEW-SUNY program, but I can say that all of the lessons I learned were the hard way, and that was important for building character! Through various opportunities and mentorships, JFEW-SUNY gave me a medium to experiment with professionalism for the first time, and allowed me to make mistakes in a controlled environment before heading out in the real world.
JFEW: What does being a JFEW Scholar mean to you?
MG: To me, being a JFEW SUNY Scholar means that you are a woman who has worked very hard to get to where she is, and will use the skills gained from the program to work very hard to get where she intends to go.
JFEW: How do you envision your future when you graduate?
MG: I have already graduated with a bachelor's degree, and I am currently working at my former JFEW-SUNY internship site, Ocean Sanctuary Alliance! With the connections I've received through the original internship, I've been helping to conduct world-class ocean research and restoration both locally and internationally. Next year, I aspire to work towards an M.S. in Marine Science and eventually influence ocean policy in the capitol.