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Unity Environmental University Student Ambassadors
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Current Student Ambassadors
Unity Environmental University Student, Javier Montanez, was born and raised in Patillas, Puerto Rico. Since elementary school, his passion has been sports and the outdoors. He won many soccer championships while in high school. As a youth, he not only was very versatile in sports, but he became a fitness enthusiast. While in school, his passion for science and math was evidenced by his good grades and participation in various science fairs. He got married, and now he has two amazing daughters. Living on the island was challenging for him and his new wife, so they decided to move to New Jersey for a start fresh. With training and experience in many different fields, he made a living with several different jobs but they all left him feeling unsatisfied and incomplete. He decided to move on to pursuing one of his goals in life: completing a degree in a career that will help him grow and challenge himself, and allow him to be part of a change for a better world. Javier earned his Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Geospatial Technologies through Distance Education which he considers to be one of the best environmental colleges. For Javier, the best part of learning through Distance Education at Unity Environmental University is being able to balance home and work life, while receiving the education he needs to succeed in his professional career. His experience has been fantastic: the professors have helped him with his questions and doubts, always answering within a reasonable timeframe, and continuing to motivate him.
Unity Environmental University Student, Ellen Wieczorek, is working on her Master of Professional Science in Environmental Geospatial Technologies in addition to her Graduate Certificate in Environmental Geographic Information Science (GIScience). She’s earned several degrees. Ellen has a Master’s Degree in both Wildlife Conservation and Management and Professional Science for Environmental Studies and Sustainability through Unity Environmental University in Unity, Maine; a Bachelor of Science Degree in Zoo Science from Friends University in Wichita, Kansas; and an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Zoo Keeping Technology from Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Ellen is an intrepid traveler, and she has visited 46 of the United States and 30 different countries. Her passport holds the mosaic of her life as a traveler, and both her friend groups and education span the globe. Maybe her “travel-bug” occurred because she was born and raised about twenty minutes from one of the busiest airports in the world–O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. Her hometown of Chicago, Illinois has the largest population of Polish people outside of Warsaw. As an adult in pursuit of education and jobs, she has lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Wichita, Kansas; Front Royal, Virginia; and now Houston, Texas. Most people from Chicago do not actually live in the city–most people live in the suburbs. Ellen grew up in Palatine, which is a quick 30-minute trip northwest from the Chicago proper. Currently, Ellen works at Houston Zoo as a primate keeper. On any given day working at Houston Zoo, she interfaces with roughly thirty varieties of primates. As a keeper, some of her duties include cleaning, feeding, medicating, training, and enriching the animals in her care.
In addition to working at Houston Zoo, Ellen volunteers for the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre as their North American Coordinator, and she also volunteers for the Saola Foundation as their Social Media Coordinator. Other activities Ellen enjoys outside of work include traveling, nature walks, exercising, recycling, composting, visiting museums, reading, and target shooting in gun ranges. She has presented both her original research master’s thesis about Maned wolves and her Sun bear work at three international virtual conferences. Ellen has traveled to four continents: Africa, Europe, and North and South America. Her favorite continent is Asia. Her favorite country is Mongolia, where she lived in a traditional ger and conducted field research on Pallas’ cats. If you are wondering what her favorite books are, that’s an easy answer: passports. If you have a passport, she would love to hear your travel stories.
Unity Environmental University Student, Catherine Sutton, is a distance education student from Florida that is working on her Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and Sustainable Aquaculture. Currently Catherine is a high school science teacher who has decided to head back to school to focus on her other passion, which is the ocean and the marine life that it holds. Living in Florida, Catherine spent many days at the beach where her love of the ocean developed so it was only natural her future would lie with the ocean. Unity’s distance education program has allowed Catherine to go back to school to pursue her degree while also maintaining her role as a teacher. Catherine’s goal after graduate is to work for the Florida aquarium or work as part of conservation groups focusing on sea turtles and whale sharks.
Unity Environmental University Student, Tatiana Norden, is a distance education student in Las Vegas, Nevada, working on her bachelors for Animal Health and Behavior. Tatiana has a long time passion for caring for animals and her journey began back in her hometown of San Fernando, California where she began volunteering at her local wildlife sanctuary. Soon after becoming a volunteer she was hired on as staff and learned how to care for a variety of animals such as, big cats, bears, birds of prey, and hoofstock just to name a few. She decided to pursue an education in animal husbandry and now has a former associates in Animal Training and Behavior. With her associates she was able to complete internships at the L.A Zoo, a small outreach facility in San Diego, and work one on one with a falconer helping with Golden Eagle rehabilitation. Tatiana worked as an Outreach Coordinator for 4 years before being offered a position as a Large Felid Keeper and Enrichment Specialist at her current place of employment. She decided to pursue a higher education with Unity Environmental University because she believes that the specialized classes in the curriculum can help her fine tune her skills and move up in her profession. Her favorite part of being a student at Unity is being able to apply what she learns in class to real world circumstances. She also loves the flexibility of distance education, which allows her to pursue her two passions full time at work and in school.
Ingrid Perez Torres
Unity Environmental University student, Ingrid M. Pérez Torres, is a born and raised Puerto Rican that lives in Florida after finding out of a great opportunity to start her career in the zookeeping field there. Since she was a little girl she knew she wanted to focus on something related to science or be involved in some sort of animal care work. After working three years as a volunteer in a non-profit organization named Save a Gato in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Ingrid was certain that her purpose in this world was to work with animals and help people understand their importance in this world. With this in mind, she applied for the Zoo Animal Technology A.S. degree at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, FL, where she graduated from it in 2021. Following that she has been working in different zoological facilities like Discovery Cove and Houston Zoo. Her experience has mainly been focused on the ornithology section where she has found a great passion and love for it but hopes to eventually be more involved in the hepatology section of the field.
Pursuing further studies, Ingrid found herself applying to the Animal Health and Behavior bachelor’s degree at Unity Environmental University early in 2022. With this, she hopes to step up her game in the animal care field. She fell in love with animal behavioral observation and care and decided that challenging herself to get another degree would help her deepen her knowledge and experience. In the future, Ingrid would like to get a master’s degree in wildlife and conservation management to be able to do more than care and education but to also get actual hands-on experience with helping communities and species in need. The year and a half that she has been in Unity has been challenging but especially unique and great for her. “I never thought that studying online could be so nice! Being able to choose my own time to work on school has never been so easy. Not to leave behind the amount of knowledge you get from the courses and the experiences the professors share from their own specific fields to help guide you through the classes. I am so glad I found Unity and that I have been able to work towards my degree with them!”
Sarah Rockwood is currently enrolled with a major in the Animal Health and Behavior program, along with a minor in the Marine Biology program, as well. Her interest in animals extends back to childhood growing up in a small Vermont town. An elementary school whale watching field trip began her fascination with the ocean and all its creatures. Sarah currently resides in central Florida with her family, which makes the distance education program a perfect fit for her lifestyle. She does have a former background in college with Business Management and Accounting degrees. In the future, upon leaving Unity college with her new degree, Sarah hopes to work with a variety of animals in captivity or the field setting and make a difference for our planet.
Unity Environmental University student Maranda Boggs is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science & Climate Change, with a Wildlife Ecology concentration from the “Jerseydelphia” region. Being able to attend school while raising her son has meant the difference between dropping out and maintaining A’s. As a first-generation college student, she has found that attending school online has given her the confidence to reach out to local environmental organizations. She started volunteering for her town’s shade tree advisory board, then became a certified EN-ROADS ambassador. Becoming an ambassador prompted her to join her local chapter of Citizen’s Climate Lobby, where she took on the roles of onboarding manager and congressional liaison. The climate crisis will not be solved only by professionals and governments. Every day individuals have the capacity for change and can help pave the way for systemic change. Maranda feels passionate about restoring our local ecosystems in a way that allows both people and their environments to flourish. Whether planting native trees in the local park or helping homeowners redesign their lawns, Maranda strives to add bits of nature into our everyday lives.
Kristin Daley is working on her Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and Sustainable Aquaculture remotely in Massachusetts. From a young age, Kristin’s passion for the ocean and marine life increased year after year. At eight years old she made a promise to herself that one day she would go to South Africa to study the White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias). Now, almost twenty years later, Kristin will be interning this summer for two months with Oceans Research in Mossel Bay, South Africa to study these magnificent creatures. In 2017, Kristin did an internship with Blue Ocean Society and worked on a whale watching boat collecting behavioral data and educating passengers about whales and the different species in the Gulf of Maine. She fell in love with the whales and working on boats, and just recently got her 100 ton captain’s license. During the winter of 2019-2020, Kristin moved to Maui, Hawaii and worked for Pacific Whale Foundation working on a whale watching and snorkeling boat. Kristin works for Seven Seas Whale Watch out of Gloucester, Massachusetts and this will be her seventh year working with whales. During the off season, Kristin works for the Whalemobile. The Whalemobile, made by Cynde McInnis, is a life sized inflatable replica of a female humpback whale named Nile. Kristin travels around with Nile to schools and libraries to educate students about whales and their importance in the ecosystem. She just recently was in Indiana for a week and Rochester, New York for two weeks.
Kristin chose Unity because she is able to complete her degree 100% online. After receiving an
Associates Degree in Biology at Great Bay Community College, Kristin wanted a way to take
classes and work at the same time. Unity was able to transfer over 70 of her credits, and has been a great choice for her busy schedule. When she isn’t working or in class, Kristin loves traveling and spending her time outdoors. Kristin recently road tripped through Iceland and is headed back to Israel for a second time this May. Kristin’s goal is to continue her education and get her Masters in Marine Science with a concentration in conservation of marine predators here at Unity.
Past Student Ambassadors
Ashley Gamache, Graduate Class of 2022
Unity Environmental University Student, Ashley Gamache, developed a strong sense of wildlife preservation through outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, kayaking, etc. as a child. Science taught her how much more there is to learn from the world and how many different possibilities there are going forward. She has spent most of her young life living in Connecticut. While studying Environmental Science at Rochester Institute of Technology, she lived in Rochester, New York, before moving to Franklin County, Maine. She is currently earning her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Geospatial Technologies (GIS) through Distance Education at Unity Environmental University. Her life’s passion is to contribute, support her community, and make a difference in the world! After graduation, she plans to use her degree to work in the energy and urban development sector.
Unity Environmental University Student, Rainy, is enrolled in the Wildlife Conservation Bachler’s program, and recently finished her certification in GIS (geographic information system). With her degrees, she hopes to work with emergency teams after natural disasters, with the aid of drones and other GIS technologies. She would also like to work alongside other conservationists to map out cave systems and document the unique wildlife that makes them their homes. Currently, Rainy is located in Iowa and hopes that she will be able to use her future degrees to benefit local as well as global communities.
Emily Verbois, Graduate Class of 2023
Unity Environmental University Student, Emily Verbois, is a Wildlife Conservation major studying remotely from Georgia. She chose Unity because they offered the major she wanted in a 100% online format, which meant she wouldn’t have to uproot her family for her education. Emily has loved all of the hands-on assignments so far. And feels it really helps to get out into local environments to really understand the subject matter. Her future career goals are to help stabilize wildlife populations in Georgia and also, hopefully, across the U.S., and to help humans and wildlife live in harmony.
Melanie Goldstein, Graduate Class of 2022
Unity Environmental University Student, Melanie Goldstein, is working on her Bachelor of Science in Animal Health and Behavior. Melanie is from the greater Philadelphia area in Pennsylvania, where her passion for animals started as a little girl. Her determination to help animal shelters and rescue animals led her to foster. In 2017-2018, Melanie helped find homes for 17 dogs and one cat. She managed to place the animals with loving families.
Over the past few years, she has become an environmentalist by doing her part in cleaning the Earth. Melanie recycles, reuses, thrifts, cleans litter, and uses reusable items. By doing her part, she hopes to educate others about threats to the environment. Also, Melanie wants to raise awareness about human activity harmful to animals.
Currently, Melanie is interning at Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park in Tampa, Florida. Melanie works in the primate department with mandrils, guenons, colobus, golden lion tamarin, Bolivian Gray Titi Monkey, Siamangs, Patas, Hamadryas baboons, Lemurs, and the Bornean Orangutans. She works with others in providing food and daily care to the animals and the maintenance of animal exhibits—behavioral observations and record-keeping, as well as animal enrichment and public interaction.
Melanie has two cats (Theo and Lilo) and a dog (Mac). She likes to go on walks with her dog and play with her cats. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, crocheting, and coloring to help destress.
Unity Environmental University Student, Sarah Pitman, is part of the Environmental Science Master’s program at Unity Environmental University. Currently based in Washington State, enrolling in this degree is part of her concerted career pivot into ecological restoration and research. She is especially interested in permaculture, intersectional environmentalism, and accessible science communication. After graduation, she hopes to focus on projects that support harmonious coexistence between humans and ecosystems, both locally and globally.
Summer Kearney, Graduate Class of 2022
Unity Environmental University Student, Summer Kearney, earned a second bachelor’s degree in Animal Health and Behavior. She has a previous Bachelor of Finance that she earned from the University of Hawaii Manoa. Summer enrolled with Unity after being laid off from her full-time position in retail buying due to the pandemic, and deciding that she wanted to make a career change into wildlife conservation. Summer’s goal after completing this degree is to be able to work with endangered species in an aquarium, zoo, or wildlife sanctuary. In addition to being a student, Summer is also a military spouse and mother of two young children.
Last Updated on August 25, 2023