Jaden Iñiguez, Environmental Science Major

Spring 2021 ENVS Outstanding Senior

“Jaden is methodological, detail-oriented, and hardworking. Due to their excellent communication skills and interests in environmental policy, Jaden led the Stormwater Drainage Project, informing water harvesters and urban foragers. Jaden goes above and beyond and does not give up on tasks once it gets challenging or when the path is unclear. Jaden is dedicated to a career in environmental science and sustainability, and due to her strong passion and drive, I am confident that Jaden will do transformative environmental science and policy work.”

- Dr. Mónica Ramírez-Andreotta, nominator

Tell us about yourself.

I'm originally from Westchester, New York, which are the suburbs right outside of the City. I became interested in environmental science when I was in high school and I took AP Environmental Science, and I always knew I wanted to go out West, just somewhere far from home. I just wanted to experience a new environment, a new like ecosystem, especially because I was interested in environmental science so, then I came out here to visit, I loved it, now I’m here it's been great!

What have you enjoyed about your major?

We get a broad range of knowledge, especially, with the emphasis that I choose, leadership sustainability communication. It’s given me the tools to look at the world using systems thinking.

The professors are cool. I like our major, it isn't like huge, and so I like having classes with the same people. Before when we had opportunities for hands-on experiences and field trips, like soil science lab was actually really fun. I enjoyed it. We went on a few field trips and got to work with the soil, that was super nice.

Any clubs or leadership positions you enjoyed?

I've been a part of Students for Sustainability. I think it was my second year, the first semester I joined SFS, and it was so great. We're all like running in similar circles of different majors, like environmental science, or natural resources majors, and others. It's cool it made the campus feel smaller and also feel like I could influence the things that are going on campus.

Through that, I was appointed to the Green Fund, which has given me a really interesting different perspective. I like reading through grant proposals and deciding where funding goes as a diverse group.

Any scientific research?

I was never like assigned a specific project that lasted through my entire time working here. But I think it worked out better because I got to see a bunch of different things. I've been helping the graduate students with processing their samples in Dr. Ramírez-Andreotta's lab.

But then this past year, I’ve gotten to oversee my own samples and that's been really nice. Like a nice culmination of having helped do pH and EC, or metal preparations on their samples, and then getting to do the same more independently. And I’m in charge of like interfacing with the participant, which is exciting.

Biggest challenge being a college student during the pandemic?

It was just like trying to keep the same level of like focus and productivity. The drive wasn't gone, it's very hard to be like pushing for something so important to your future when the future just feels so uncertain. Now, I think it's more of like trying to remain engaged. It's just trying to keep myself focused and push through and even though being on the computer is just draining sometimes it's worth it, I think.

Next steps?

This past year has completely just like flipped me upside down, I think I’m just going to take it slow. I actually just lined up a temporary position in Stafford on Mount Graham where I’ll be a recreation technician.

Words of advice?

I feel like it's so cliche but get involved on campus, especially with our school being so big. I think it's a nice way to feel like you do have your own community. You get like the best of both worlds, you find your people, your little niche. I think it just helps you feel connected to the campus and to your academic experience. I feel like it's all just about making connections within yourself and your surroundings. So, like see if you can connect to the people or your professors. See what’s out there. I feel that is a good way.