Above, Kennedy Valois ’17 in South Florida for a recent travel course. Below, with Jeff Corwin of Animal Planet.
Science Major Prepared for Career with ‘Amazing’ Experiences
Ever since she can remember, Kennedy Valois ’17 of Clarksburg, Mass., has loved animals, nature, and being outdoors. When it came time to choose a major, she decided upon not one, but two – environmental studies and biology.
“There are so many amazing places, ecosystems and species on our planet,” Valois said. “I am very passionate about conservation because I strongly believe that all species have a right to this Earth just as much as we do, and deserve a chance.”
With a particular devotion to public outreach and education, Valois said it is through teaching others – particularly future generations – about the importance of the Earth’s biodiversity and how special each ecosystem is – that the environment might be improved.
As she nears graduation in May, Valois looks back on an education that’s included travel to South Florida to explore its ecosystems, and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands to carry out a research project.
In St. Johns, Valois worked with Chad Raimer ’17 of Cheshire, Mass. Their project, which they went on to present at MCLA’s Undergraduate Research Conference, centered on coral reef complexity and biodiversity.
“It was incredible to explore those different ecosystems, but it was even better to be able to carry out our own research and understand first-hand all the components and hard work that goes into successful research,” Valois said.
As a freshman, she had an opportunity to meet Animal Planet cable channel television host and environmental journalist Jeff Corwin, who came to MCLA to participate in our Hardman Lecture Series, made possible through the generosity of the Hardman Family Endowment.
When she was a young adult, Valois explained, Corwin was her idol: he was the reason she wanted to work with wildlife and in the environmental studies field.
Valois also researched and tracked wood turtles, and recently served an internship – set up by one of her professors – with the Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Service. This field research experience, she said, was “amazing.”
She also is a supplemental instructor for an “Introduction to Biology” class, and a science fellow in MCLA’s Teaching to Learn program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation. In this role, she teaches local elementary school children about science.
“I love being able to inspire students – both younger and college-level – with a love of science,” she said. “The experience I gained from teaching a variety of age groups has prepared me for the public outreach and educational side of conservation.”
Valois – who hopes to work in wildlife conservation, ecology or environmental education and outreach – said MCLA’s programs far exceeded her expectations. Thanks to her professors, she feels well prepared for a job in the field.
“The environmental studies and biology professors push us to not only learn, but truly understand concepts in a way that we can apply to everyday situations in problem solving, field work and research.”