Angela Vincent, recipient of North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)’s “30 Under 30” and alumni of the Urban Sustainability Master of Arts program sat down with us to talk about her experiences as a student at Antioch University Los Angeles.
My time at Antioch was expansive. I learned so much about the most troubling problems we face as a society, but also gained experiencing trying to address these problems through the residencies. I was constantly inspired by my fellow classmates. We all share the same desire to help people and the planet, but we all do it in our own way. It was a time of learning and growing. It was sitting with the harsh realities of our world and then rolling up our sleeves to try and start chipping away at them. I cherish my time at Antioch.
I had been researching different graduate school programs and none of them resonated with me- until I came across the Urban Sustainability Master of Arts (USMA) program. I was intrigued by both the subject matter and the format. It was broad enough for me to explore new interests, yet I could also tailor it to help develop my current work. The low residency program, with online classes and in-person residencies, worked with my schedule as I was looking for a program I could do while working full time. When I first met with the program director, I was still a bit on the fence about jumping into graduate school. I had just returned from a trip to Cuba and saw that he had a rare picture of a smiling Che Guevara in his office. I figured I would fit right in.
I took some much needed time off to recharge after graduating in 2017. I am a firm believer in striving to achieve balance in one’s life. I definitely relished the extra time I had! Graduate school is a big commitment and it is important to take some time to celebrate your accomplishment. After a few months, I began applying for promotional opportunities with the state agency I work for, the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CaRecycle). In January of 2018, I was offered a job in Sacramento and two months later I picked up and moved to Northern California. My new role is with CalRecycle’s Legislative Affairs office where I analyze recycling policies and act as a liaison with legislative offices and other stakeholders.
Prospective students: it is ok to take your time in deciding. Take the time to meet with professors and current students and ask a lot of questions. It is a big commitment, so you want to make sure it is right for you. With that said, Antioch is truly a very special place. It is uniquely authentic. It’s values and unwavering commitment to social justice are not merely words on a page, but are sewn into the fabric of the university. Current students: take advantage of as many opportunities as you can both on campus and, as a student, off campus. Get involved. Use your “student card” to attend workshops, conferences, and other events related to the subject matter you are interested in. Your time at AULA will go by fast. Take it day by day and know that you will get to the finish line eventually. Take the time to get to know your professors and fellow classmates. Both can be great mentors and help steer you towards future opportunities. During your time at AULA, you will be writing some of your best work. Take the extra step to try and get it published. I was encouraged to do this by USMA’s program director, Donald Strauss. I enrolled in one of AULA’s online “inspiration2publication courses” and learned about a tool called Duotrope that helps you find outlets for your work. One of my papers ended up getting published in an online publication. This is a really great way to raise the bar for your writing and to help build your credibility in your field of interest.