Student Spotlight: Stationed Abroad and Eager for Environmental Change, Monicka Raybon (BS ‘22)

Jan. 5, 2021

With a background in civil engineering and passion for exploration, military airman Monicka LaShawn Raybon pivoted to an online environmental science major while stationed abroad in England.


Monicka Raybon is an online environmental science student
Monicka Rabon Monicka LaShawn Raybon (BS Environmental Science '22)

Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Raybon (BS Environmental Science’ 22) moved around the country with her family frequently, experiencing different cultures and changes in scenery. 

She began her education as a civil engineer major, but found herself drawn to international environmental issues. And now during her military career, she wants to explore opportunities beyond engineering.  

 “I enjoy flexibility. I like adaptability. And I strive for change. That’s why I made the decision to study environmental science even while in the military.”

Adapting to Make a Difference

The choice to be an environmental science major was easy for Raybon. The combinations of study, from air quality, soil health, water quality, are infinitely exciting.

So far, her favorite class has been environmental microbiology, learning about viruses, bacteria and unseen organisms.

“I’m not a stationary person and enjoy the process of adapting to newness, whether that be a place, a career, or even a choice of study.”

Raybon is currently enlisted in the Air Force with the Civil Engineer Squadron where she helps sustain their base in Brandon, England. Managing online classes while juggling her work duties, all in the midst of a pandemic, has been a challenge. But Raybon is undeterred, determined that if you want to make a difference in the world, you must be able to adapt to your surroundings. 

Stationed but not Stationary

Choosing to be in the military combines Raybon’s passion for change and her love of people. 

“A military career allows you to move around a lot, experiencing new cultures and places and opportunities to interact closely with others.”

As for environmental science, a military assignment in Korea helped spur her interest in the field. She was astonished at the state of the poor air quality, requiring its citizens to regularly wear masks, and that experience made her realize how she wanted to make a difference for our environment.

“I am inspired to make a change by using engineering tools that can be used for environmental improvement.” says Raybon.


Online environmental science student inspired by abroad travels
Monicka Raybon Raybon was inspired to pursue environmental science after witnessing air quality issues abroad.

Intertwining Environmental Science and Engineering

With goals to exit the military and receive her degree in 2022, Raybon wants to use what she has learned during her travels, military career and education to reshape our environmental policies. 

She would like to eventually work for the Environmental Protection Agency and potentially complete a graduate education in environmental engineering.