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Alumni Profiles

Anna West

Costa Rica Fall '13

Anna West

About

Thinking back on my experience, Costa Rica was where, for the first time in my life, I combined what I liked to do with an idea of how I could serve others.

 
SFS PROGRAM: Sustainable Development Studies | Costa Rica | Fall 2013
HOME SCHOOL WHILE AT SFS: Boston University
CURRENT PROFESSION: Communications Consulting
 

I went to Costa Rica with my best friend because I was eager to escape Boston’s infamous winter. Looking back, I didn’t know what to expect, but what I came away with was a lifetime of memories, an appreciation for Costa Rican culture, a deep understanding of the environment, and a profound insight into myself.

When I close my eyes, I can still see Costa Rica’s rolling green hills. I can see myself in the early morning on the finca, surrounded by orange trees and dewy grass. I can see the sunset over Lake Nicaragua from the dock at Ometepe. I can see the clouds and mist envelop Monteverde. But it’s not just these landscapes that will forever be ingrained in my memories. More so, it’s the people that have left an imprint. I think about Yendry’s boundless wisdom and smile, Gerardo’s sense of humor, Achim’s analytical gaze, and Edgardo’s quiet way with birds. Besides the staff and faculty, I stay in touch with my SFS class and have met up with program friends in New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles.

Enrolling in SFS gave me the opportunity to take what I was learning in lectures and explore how environmental issues actually played out in the real world. At the end of the program, after our data was collected and our research papers were presented, I realized that while I enjoyed being in the field, my strength lies in bridging the communication gap between scientists and the public.

This critical insight into myself is something that I learned in the field and what has ultimately prompted my career since then. The semester after SFS I interned at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington D.C. where I did speechwriting and communications at the Office of the Press Secretary under former administrator Gina McCarthy. More recently, over the course of two years, I communicated and promoted Aclima’s data insights to elevate public awareness of the health impacts of air pollution. Currently, I work as a communications consultant and provide strategic communications, social media management, and digital marketing services to clients. In my work, it is my mission to drive impact for social change, educate about the environment, and help scientists better communicate their insights.

Thinking back on my experience, Costa Rica was where, for the first time in my life, I combined what I liked to do with an idea of how I could serve others. At SFS, I discovered that with storytelling I could engage audiences about science and the impacts of climate change on humans and our planet.

 

May 2018