Ursinus College: Where my passion for the environment blossomed.
“It has been almost a decade since my graduation and I can honestly say my experiences at Ursinus College have significantly influenced my life. At Ursinus, I was an environmental studies major and biology, anthropology double-minor, a member of Phi Alpha Psi, Inter-Greek Council, Track & Field, and the B’Naturals, as well as served as a teacher’s assistant for oceanography.
As an environmental studies major, I was able to learn outside of the classroom with some unforgettable field trips. From Saturday excursions to Corson’s Inlet in Ocean City with Dr. Goddard, to hiking and kayaking voyages with Dr. Willig, I learned so much about the environment, how humans co-exist with it, and the impacts of that co-existence.
During the fall semester of my senior year at Ursinus, I registered for Dr. Richard Wallace’s seminar class titled, Environmental Policy and Analysis. The aim of this class was for the students to use their interdisciplinary critical thinking skills and their knowledge of environmental policies to develop solutions for environmental issues on a local, national, and global scale. In retrospect, I should have known with the amount I loved this seminar class, environmental law was in my future.
After Ursinus, I enrolled in the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s master’s in biomedical sciences. I quickly realized I did not enjoy the subject and was completely lost with what to do next. I remember reaching out to Dr. Wallace and expressing an interest in Vermont Law School’s environmental law programs. He immediately encouraged my interest and offered to write a letter of recommendation. A few months later, I packed up and moved to Vermont, where I went on to graduate from Vermont Law School in 2014 with a master’s in environmental law and policy and again in 2017 with a juris doctor and a certificate in energy law.
After Vermont Law School, I went to work at the New Jersey attorney general’s office in the Environmental Enforcement Section, where I specialized in solid waste permitting and counseling. Here, I was an integral part of the drafting of legislation, known as the “Dirty Dirt” bill, that supplemented existing solid waste law to expand the scope of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s regulatory power over the waste industries as well as include the regulation, of a previously unregulated industry, soil & fill recycling. In January 2020, the Dirty Dirt bill was signed into law by New Jersey Gov. Murphy and authorized the regulation of soil and fill recycling services.
I loved my time at the attorney general’s office, but after almost four years, I was looking for a new challenge and started applying to other positions. In March 2021, I moved from Lawrenceville, N.J., to Phoenix, Ariz., to start a new job as the environmental program manager of the Drinking Water Monitoring & Protection Unit within the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. I supervise the unit charged with regulating all public water systems within the state of Arizona. So far, I am loving my new job and my new city!
Without those field trips, classes and the support of some amazing professors, there is no telling where I would be and what I would be doing. It is because of those experiences I was able to pursue my passion for the environment. Without Ursinus College, I would not be the person I am today.”
- Josie Maressa ’12.