For this Alumni Spotlight, Lorna Probasco ’20 sat down and spoke with Environmental Science and Policy (ENSP) alumna, Grace DeLucia ’19. Following her time at St. Edward’s, she has taken a position at Steven W. Carothers & Associates (SWCA) Environmental Consultants working on a Hurricane Harvey disaster relief project.

On her position and how she got there: 
The way I found out about [SWCA] was from an email that Dr. Peter Beck sent out. He is an awesome resource for internships, jobs, and things going on around Austin. My role is as an Environmental Specialist and there is a lot that goes into Hurricane Harvey disaster relief and I am on the environmental review side. I review the documents for people that are applying for funding to rebuild their homes. [For example] if they are in a flood plain they must meet the proper conditions. In the documents it will say “Oh, they’ll get insurance,” or they’ll elevate their homes, and even if toxic sites are nearby. I work a lot with the National Environmental Policy Act and the compliance with that, FEMA, flood maps and more.

How St. Edward’s University shaped her career and direction:
When I first entered St. Edward’s, I was deciding between ENSP and Communication majors, so I took an introductory class in each of those and ended up liking the Intro to Sustainability class a lot and felt really like-minded with the other people in that class. From there I decided on my major. I was also a part of Students for Sustainability for the entire time and it was a really cool organization.

Applying what she has learned from St. Edward’s:
My job is actually within my field which is mind-boggling to me that it happened so soon after graduation. I remember in my Environmental Chemistry course my last semester, Dr. Amy Concilio was big on covering a lot of different things. We did fieldwork with a lead and water project where we looked at different government websites and practiced how to use and understand them and I definitely use that a lot in my work. I’m constantly comparing maps on the EPA’s website, using a tool called NEPAssist which shows you where toxic sites are, and looking at FEMA flood maps. Dr. Concilio’s classes were definitely very helpful.

Advice for St. Edward’s students:
Get involved in everything that you can. One of the first things I did when I entered St. Edward’s was going to the Involvement Fair and I signed up for everything. You don’t end up going to everything or staying on with everything, but you get a sense of what you are interested in and who your people are; that’s how I found Students for Sustainability. I also got to know the professors really well and work closely with them in my last year which was awesome. Take advantage of it being a small school and get to know the people. The close-knit community is one of the things I miss a lot. For people in ENSP, read all of Dr. Beck’s emails- they are so helpful!

Interview by Lorna Probasco ’20.