Lisa Jackson, a hero to women everywhere

Interns with Lisa Jackson

By Karen Dante

While acutely aware of the green movement’s popularity within my generation, I can assure you that my decision to pursue a career in environmental protection is not a mere fad.

My career choices were determined even before I was born. I grew up in India where there were only two suitable careers for a man and a woman – either becoming a doctor or an engineer. Indeed, one of the most difficult experiences in my life was looking into my parents’ eyes and informing them that I would not be taking the MCATs but rather I wanted to work in the environmental science field, as a field researcher and someday, a climate policy analyst.

While this painful meeting marked a turning point in my life, my past two years in the environmental field have been filled with great adventures and learning experiences from conducting surveys of rare plant species to collecting data on the climate’s impact on plants to lobbying on the Hill for wildlife funding and now, to working as a Communications Fellow in EPA’s Climate Change Division.

Since my entry in the environmental field, my parents have not only been proud and supportive, but are actively engaged in the green movement from purchasing produce at the local farmers market to installing energy efficient light bulbs and products.

My decision to pursue a career that doesn’t fit standard expectations has been reinforced by the work and activism carried forth by environmental leaders such as Bill McKibben, Al Gore, and Juliet Eilperin. On Friday, July 27th, I had the honor of meeting yet another environmental leader and one of my role models – EPA Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson.  

I’ve had the opportunity to hear Ms. Jackson speak in the past and have been blown away by not only her breadth of knowledge but also her passion for the environment and the American public. What most inspires me about Ms. Jackson is that she’s an African American woman holding the highest ranking position within EPA, and has a strong voice and leadership role outside EPA.

She has given me the courage to inspire other young women from underrepresented communities to pursue careers that don’t fit the status quo but are still vital to the well-being of the world. She’s a testament to all women that you can have a strong voice and be a leader in any field of your choosing.

Karen Dante is an ORISE Fellow supporting the communications team in the Climate Change Division within the Office of Air and Radiation. She holds a Bachelors of Science in biology and psychology from Queen’s University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Environmental Science and Policy at John’s Hopkins University.

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