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Angelina Peone ’16

Angelina Peone
 

Alumni Spotlight: Angelina Peone

Environmental Energy Technology, Class of ‘16
Solid Waste & Recycling Intern for Ulster County Resource Recovery
Assistant at the Community Compost Company
 

Where She's Going

I will be doing two internships this summer. I’ll be working as a Solid Waste & Recycling Intern for Ulster County Resource Recovery, a waste transfer station and recycling facility that also accepts organic and electronic waste. I will also be working with the Community Compost Company in New Paltz, NY, where I will be assisting the company with developing compost testing procedures among other operational tasks. My ideal career path would be to find employment in the recycling industry, more specifically in the organics division.

Real Life, Real Learning

My involvement in the SEEDS club was a great resource for developing the composting program “Feed the Worms” on campus. With collaboration from Prentice and Champlin dining halls and a handful of very passionate student volunteers, we were able to divert over a ton of food waste from the campus waste stream. We then created a work-study position for the program to ease the need for student volunteers to transport the food scraps to our composting location. I am proud to have impacted the way the dining hall staff manages their organic wastes, and that now a student can get paid to serve the campus in a sustainability and leadership role.

This experience truly helped me to understand the details and obstacles of organizing and implementing environmental sustainability projects within a community and helped me develop my leadership skills. I had to work out logistics, communicate technical ideas in a professional manner, and practice public outreach in an effective way. This exemplifies the Real Life, Real Learning values that are nurtured by the faculty, staff, and professors who are all willing to help make student’s ideas come to life. This experience has prepared me to be a more successful and knowledgeable leader in my field.

Community on Campus

The EET program is a close knit community on campus, and the class sizes are on the smaller side; this was to my benefit. Being in a smaller class made the learning environment more personal, and boosted my confidence to ask deeper questions about the topics. This only fed my curiosity and allowed me to develop a clearer vision of what I was actually interested in learning more about.

The EET students go on a lot of awesome field trips where we can meet with professionals working in the industry and explore the different job opportunities in the Environmental Energy field. This made an incredible difference in my curiosity about “how things work” and helped me to think more deeply about where I saw myself after college. Dr. Bob Rynk and Professor Dave Waage, in particular, really helped put the concepts I was learning into perspective, always taking a step back to look at the bigger picture of the topics we were covering and explaining how it applied to the world at large. To be able to step back and talk about the practical application-and actually see it in labs and fieldtrips-absolutely helped me to develop critical thinking skills beyond the bear minimum of conceptual learning.

Fostering Ability and Making an Impact

I really liked being in a learning environment that attracted people from all different perspectives in agriculture. Being able to talk openly with people who don’t share the same values as you really opens your mind to other ideas, the other side of things. This fostered my ability to think critically about agricultural issues, ethics in science and technology, and energy/oil/climate change topics. It’s important to be able to navigate these types of discussions professionally, so that you can be empowered and well-rounded about the issues. Being in a socially and culturally diverse student body was very valuable to my learning experience.
“[My recycling program] exemplifies the Real Life, Real Learning values that are nurtured by the faculty, staff, and professors who are all willing to help make student’s ideas come to life.”

Students, Take Note

If you are considering a career in an environmental, agricultural, or food related field, SUNY Cobleskill offers a plethora of opportunities, both academic and extra-curricular, to keep you engaged in your interests. Getting involved in a club is a great way to further your learning in less-obvious ways through special events, open discussions, and meeting new people with different perspectives. Don’t be shy to join a club that is outside of your program of study, get outside of your comfort zone! You may discover hidden interests and new friends this way. Also, doing a special project is a great way to dive more deeply into a topic you’re interested in and apply hands-on learning. Many of the professors love to collaborate with research projects and enjoy seeing a student show initiative to do a little extra work. Start thinking about these things now (special projects, community service, club involvement) because these are not only rich experiences but they are also great things to put on your resume and will open doors for scholarship opportunities! The best advice that I could give is to always have the end in mind, in every single class, every single lecture, engage yourself in how you can apply what you’re learning to your life after college. It will make learning so much more fun and meaningful. And if you’re not sure what “the end” looks like for you, that’s okay. Part of going to college is learning about yourself not just your program of study, and the more you get involved in the community and are pro-active in your own experience in college, the more you will learn about yourself and what type of job will make you happy in the future.