Experiences of Unity College Students
tell us their stories!
Unity Students come from all different backgrounds and have had a wide range of unique experiences. We wanted to share with you some of their amazing stories!
Lauren Connor, Master’s in Environmental Geographic Information Science, Unity College class of 2021.
“Unity College has been a great experience that gave me guidance and hope for my future career goals in the Environmental Sciences. In the future, I hope to continue to make a difference using GIS to help understand our environment and the role we have to protect it.”
Eric Plaster, Master’s in Conservation Law Enforcement, Unity College class of 2021.
“I enjoyed the challenges of completing my Master’s degree at Unity and look forward to where this will take me in the near future. Even though I’m currently a Conservation Police Officer, my studies there showed me a broader picture of why I enforce the wildlife, fish, and fauna laws in my Commonwealth. I have already benefited at my job from my time at Unity. I have been given the opportunity of participating in the focus groups, leadership development, and other groups to assist the department with in future endeavors.”
Tiana Stewart, Master’s in Environmental Science, Unity College class of 2021.
“I’ve always dreamed of myself doing great things with conserving Earth’s natural beauty and the place we call home. My experience here at Unity College has equipped me with the necessary tools and skills I need to accomplish my goal. In the future, I aim to continue doing research on water quality issues for societies across the globe and bridging the gap between man and nature.”
Cheryl Vanderslice, Master’s in Environmental Science, Unity College class of 2021.
“Unity College is a place where environmentally like-minded people join to create great ideas and help each other grow in knowledge and push themselves to achieve a higher level of understanding in their field. The instructors are amazing, I will miss them all, but my favorite will always be Dr. Eric Larsen. Wendy Berube my academic advisor was the best! I had never had an advisor that was so attentive and quick to answer questions and provide guidance. She is amazing!
I was a single mother for 24 years and had received an MS in Clinical Psychology and Divinity at a religious institution but came to find out they were not properly accredited and I was left with debt and a useless degree. When I went back to school I did my undergraduate degree at SNHU and then went on to my MS at Unity. Unity was by far my favorite school and I felt a sense of belonging that I never had at a school before. I will be 49 in September, and I am so glad that I chose Unity for this last step in my life. I am hoping to teach at a community college or find a job in the Environmental Health and Safety world. My classmates were amazing and very supportive! I will go on to always pitch Unity to those who have an interest in sustainable accomplishments.”
Allison Truttling, B.S. in Environmental Studies, Unity College class of 2021.
“Unity College provided me with an affordable way to finish my degree without having to sacrifice the quality of education. In the future, I hope to use my degree to revolutionize education for young students by breaking down traditional teaching methods into naturalistic teaching that can reach all styles of learners.”
Kristen Royse, Master’s in Environmental Geographic Information Science, Unity College class of 2021.
“As a recent graduate of Unity College, I can sum up my experience in one way, and that is: if you are looking to further your education in the environmental sciences, look no further. Unity College is not only built for YOU but for YOUR success no matter your circumstance. Full-time mom, employee, or even a mature student, Unity has a path for you. Through the one-on-one communication with professors and small class size, to the social dynamic created among peers in the online classroom. From course flexibility to the timeline of your completion. Unity College is NOT one size fits all.
Attending Unity College for my graduate degree was one of the best decisions I made in order to set myself up for future success. With my completion, I intend to begin my career search in environmental consulting particularly looking to get involved in water quality and availability. Offering qualities of my education ranging from geology to geographic information systems. Eventually, I would even like to pursue my Ph. D.
My best word of advice for anyone considering this institution is to utilize the resources provided to you and more importantly, ASK questions! If someone doesn’t know the answer, one will be found for you. The staff at Unity College are there for you, and their generosity goes above and beyond.”
Valerie Perzanowski , B.S. in Environmental Emergency Management & Law Enforcement, Unity College class of 2021.
“Being able to continue my education with Unity online not only allowed me to work towards a career through education, but through experience as well. While earning my degree I was able to earn my Emergency Medical Technician Certification, and further get experience working two full-time seasons with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, work for a commercial ambulance service, and volunteer on the ambulance in my town’s fire department. Although it involved lots of time management, being able to attend my dream college online while also working, and receiving experience, has helped me prepare well for an aspiring career with the Connecticut Environmental Conservation Police. I can honestly say that Unity’s online program allowed me to achieve much more knowledge and experience, then in person collegiate learning ever did.”
Gene T. Kleppinger III, B.S. in Environmental Studies, Unity College class of 2021.
“Unity has helped me to narrow down on my goals and to achieve them. With the help of the knowledgeable staff and great resources, I have become one step closer to my dreams of becoming a Park Ranger for the National Park Service. I plan on applying my degree to my future! I will use my degree in Environmental Studies to critically think about our environment while protecting it!”
Brooke DiPaula, B.S. in Animal Health and Behavior, Unity College class of 2021.
“I am a 2021 graduate from Unity College with a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Health and Behavior. Unity allowed me the opportunity to be able to intern and volunteer with actual animals to gain that real-world experience. I was able to intern with a zoo right before the pandemic began and then I had the opportunity to intern with a wildlife rehabilitation center over the summer. I still continue to assist as a volunteer at West Shore Wildlife Center and the founder, Emily Garrigan, has created a wonderful rehabilitation center for Pennsylvania Wildlife. Unity College taught me the background information for animals and West Shore Wildlife Center allowed me to further develop my skills in the field. With the information that I learned from Unity, both in education on animal health as well as environmental sustainability, I hope that in my future I can make positive changes to impact the animals and environment in my local areas. Unity taught me a great deal of information about environmental issues that I was unaware and uneducated on, and I can use that to fuel my passion to improve our planet.”
Kimberley Berry, Master’s in Wildlife Conservation and Management, Unity College class of 2021.
“I’ve grappled with my professional identity my whole life – am I an artist, or am I a scientist? My courses, peers, and the incredible staff at Unity created one of the few places where I felt not only free but empowered to be both these identities. I am very grateful to the staff and educational community of Unity College. It is only through interdisciplinary and well-built educational outlets, such as my Wildlife Conservation Graduate program, that individuals like myself can craft projects and personal identities that break boundaries and seek innovation.
Looking forward as I graduate, I am hoping to combine the often opposed fields of the arts, craftsmanship, and natural sciences that led me to pursue my degree. In the ever technology-driven and often segmented world of the 21st century, I hope to utilize art and creative mediums to educate audiences, perpetuate sustainable growth, and reconnect people with wildlife and environments – even if it is simply the birds in our backyard. I truly believe together we can build a better and greener world!”
Alexander M. Koch, Master’s in Environmental Studies and Sustainability, Unity College class of 2021.
“My time at Unity was wonderful, both in my undergrad and graduate programs. It gave me an opportunity to go back to school later in life when I was ready and knew what I wanted to study. It allowed me opportunities I would not have had otherwise to expand my mind and learn collaboratively with faculty and other students and has been very formative.”
Jenna Stacy-Dawes, Master’s in Environmental Geographic Information Science, Unity College class of 2021.
“I enrolled at Unity to gain more experience in GIS and I am so thankful for what I was able to take away from this program. I work on a giraffe conservation program in northern Kenya where we use GIS to better understand giraffe populations as well as how they interact and share their environment with livestock and people. Since enrolling at Unity I’ve already been able to apply a lot of what I learned through this program to help inform and develop vital conservation and management plans that we hope will contribute to conserving giraffes in Kenya!”
Alumni Working in the Field
Unity College Alum, Jordan Baser, works as an Environmental Scientist.
“Unity’s distance learning program provided me the opportunity to earn my Master’s Degree in Wildlife Management and Conservation while working full time as an Environmental Scientist with the State of California. My employer supported me in furthering my education and even helped me pay for my tuition. The diversity of the classes allowed me to interact with other students from all over the country and learn how other states and organizations do their part to protect and manage the environment and natural resources in their respective regions. I was able to learn and work at my own pace and directly apply my lessons and courses toward the projects I was involved with at work.”
Unity College Alum, Jason Kaitchuck works as a Sportfish Biologist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
“Since graduating from Unity I have left the US fish and wildlife service and accepted a job with the Arizona Game and Fish Department as a Sportfish Biologist. I get to sample all the lakes in my region by fishing or using nets. I follow this up by writing reports on the survey efforts and management plans. Sometimes I get to hike into remote areas and sample streams for native fish with the native fish biologist. Unity prepared me well for this opportunity and helped me get a competitive edge with my master’s degree. I have been able to use some of the GIS software I was taught while in school. My goal was to land a permanent job in this field and with my master’s from Unity I was finally able to accomplish this goal and am located in beautiful northwest Arizona and loving every second of it.”
Unity College Alum, Morgan White, works for Bear Brook State Park.
“Unity College’s Distance Education Online Masters program gave me the flexibility to earn a Masters of Professional Science degree in Environmental Studies and Sustainability while also working full-time for the state of New Hampshire. Since each term ran for eight weeks, it also allowed me to work at my own pace and furthered my skills in understanding more of our natural resources through sustainable practices.
Since graduating from Unity College with my undergraduate degree in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Parks and Forest Resources and a Masters degree in 2021, I have been able to explore different avenues in the field such as learning more about state park management. Currently, I am working for Bear Brook State Park, under the NH Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR), which is located in southern New Hampshire in the town of Allenstown. I work in admissions and as a tour guide for Bear Brook’s Museum Complex. Bear Brook is the second largest developed state park in New Hampshire over 10,000 acres and 50 miles of trails. I am very lucky to have been hired by this park during the Covid-19 pandemic and thank my educational background that I have earned through Unity College for getting me in the door. In addition, I feel that earning these environmental science degrees, will give me the foundation to help propel me forward into exploring different career paths in the world of sustainability as well.”
Unity College Alum, Savannah Stura, works as an OPS Wildlife Biologist.
“There are so many opportunities in wildlife health, especially working in Florida. Between the whitetail deer, reptile species, and the Florida panthers, there is so much to learn about and how to better protect these species from a variety of raising issues. Following my degree, I will not only expand my horizons within wildlife health, but I will also try my hand at several certificate programs and looking into getting my prescribed burn license too! Through Unity College, I feel like I have been opened up to several different fields of study and want to keep that going by expanding my knowledge of the world around me!”
Unity College Alum, Jorge Nunez, works as a Forestry Field Specialist.
“Unity College was an amazing learning experience for me! As I was running through ideas of how to progress with my desire to study and conserve wildlife I came across Unity College and its wildlife conservation program. As I began reading more about it, I felt more compelled to apply and try my luck! The curriculum is what I was looking for in terms of learning more about the discipline of wildlife conservation. Through my collegiate experience, I enjoyed the attention to detail and the reading material is given by my professors. The classes were very interesting and interactive where we can discuss very important topics within conservation. I hope that my Unity College graduate degree can help shift my career from forestry into a role within wildlife conservation and management.”
Unity College Alum, Alyssa Mahaney, works as a Predator Conflict Prevention Specialist.
“I’ve been hunting and trapping since I was a child. When I turned 18 I got my Registered Maine Hunting and Trapping Guide license and guided bear hunts in northern Maine. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management and my Master’s degree in Natural Resource Management. I’ve been working for USDA Wildlife Services as a Wildlife Specialist for 8 years now and we provide federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts that allow people and wildlife to coexist.
I’ve worked on urban whitetail deer and Canada goose projects for USDA Wildlife Services in Pennsylvania, mitigating wolf-livestock conflicts for USDA Wildlife Services in Oregon and currently, I mitigate conflicts between predators and livestock for USDA Wildlife Services in Colorado.
The online Master’s program at Unity College was PERFECT for me because I work full-time, and I have a very unique schedule due to the amount of fieldwork I have. I loved the classes offered for the program and how it went all year, as I was able to complete my Master’s in one year. The classes offered in my Master’s program have helped me prepare for the 0486 series with the federal government (0486-Wildlife Biologist), as I have been taking on more responsibility in writing NEPA documents and biological program reports.
Dr. Brent Bibles was my capstone professor, along with a few other classes, and he was by far the best professor I’ve ever had. He answered every question I had promptly, explained things so well for me to understand via the internet, and was always there to push us to think critically. If Unity ever offers doctorates online, I will definitely be enrolling in the program!”
Unity College Alum, Angie Lindgren, works at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
“Attending Unity to further my education has been one of my best professional decisions thus far. I chose Unity for their focus on their students, the environment, and sustainability. I weighed several schools before choosing where I would pursue my master’s degree, and Unity exceeded all my criteria: asynchronous, affordable, high-achieving professors, small class sizes, and environmentally minded.
I appreciated each class and professor. Classes were challenging and relevant, and any question was always answered thoughtfully. My greatest challenge and accomplishment was the final Capstone project. I worked with The Nature Conservancy and created a trail plan and educational signs for a local preserve. This pushed me both professionally and academically and I was thrilled with the result!
Once I obtained my master’s degree, I was offered a position with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in Environmental Cleanup and Brownfield Redevelopment. I am in the field often and am directly applying my education to my career. I cannot speak highly enough about pursuing a degree with Unity, especially a Master of Professional Science, as it has immediately transferrable skills to the environmental field.”
Unity College Alum, Sarah Stanley, works as the Executive Director at Kennebunk Land Trust.
“I chose Unity’s master’s in Environmental Studies & Sustainability program because I wanted the flexibility to continue working as well as the opportunity to update my knowledge. Unity, recognized as a leader in the environmental field, provided the opportunity to deepen my understanding of how my work in conservation dovetails with broader environmental studies and sustainability issues. The program also allowed me to sharpen my skills and apply these skills through both my capstone project and work with my current organization.”
Unity College Alum, Kimberly Berry, works as an Environmental Photographer.
“Before studying at Unity College, I had a passion for wildlife and science and a strong affinity for the arts, but I was missing some elements of science, critical environmental communication skills, and a platform to merge these subjects. I can honestly say that my courses and the incredibly insightful professors at Unity helped me expand my knowledge and skills and provided me with an inclusive and welcoming space to create eco-art.
I have always had the urge to make art, but since getting my Master’s, I now have a cause to inspire that art. From re-cycled crafts like a jellyfish made from plastic bottles to wildlife photography to creatively crafted birdhouses inspired by fairytales – art and science can act like two sides of the same coin to connect emotional stories to science and nature. My education at Unity led me to believe this, and I am excited to work as both an artist and a wildlife ambassador to connect further communities with this message. Our world needs creative protection now more than ever!”
Unity College Alum, Eric Skrivseth, works with the Moshannon Creek Watershed Association.
“I was nearing the end of my career in management at a major railroad, and signed up for an introductory class in GIS at Unity College. I decided I liked the subject enough that I decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in GIS.
For my coursework I chose to study drainage and coal mining impacts. In western PA, there are substantial legacy impacts from this problem. I discovered that some of my co-workers at my railroad employer were heavily involved in the Clearfield Creek Watershed Association. I learned a great deal from them and they were generous in offering me access to their data. I also discovered that Moshannon Creek, probably the most mine drainage impaired watershed in Western Pennsylvania, if not the whole state, did not have a watershed association. One existed that disbanded in 2014.
For a class assignment I emailed a pitch for founding a Moshannon Creek Watershed Association which was well-received. We were able to incorporate and become a 501C3 non-profit. I am now the president of the organization. We have been awarded two grants that are being used to update conditions in the watershed and perform an initial evaluation and repairs on a set of six mine drainage treatment systems that had been unmaintained since a local chapter of Trout Unlimited disbanded. From the watershed evaluation, we are developing a recovery plan for the watershed. We are currently preparing a grant application in partnership with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission for design and permitting money for new treatment systems to address three mine discharges that are the first of many that will need to be addressed to improve the impaired parts of Moshannon Creek.”
Unity College Alum, Angie Ronayne, works as the Chief Sustainability Officer at Merjent.
“My Sustainability-focused MBA from Unity College gave me the foundation I needed to further my sustainability journey and my company’s sustainability journey. I wasn’t familiar with many of the concepts covered by the program, so I learned a lot. The discussions were extremely helpful in gaining additional perspective – they helped me think outside my box and apply what I was learning to unique situations.
I was also introduced to several helpful resources throughout the program. I recall first learning about Simon Sinek and the importance of starting with WHY. I still remind myself and others to start with why regularly. I also found value in considering the type of leader that I wanted to be and developing a leadership plan as part of the program.
Throughout this process, I was able to share what I was learning and help others in leadership roles at my company understand the business case for sustainability, the need for triple bottom line decision making, and the importance of supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Halfway through my program, I was appointed Merjent’s first Chief Sustainability Officer and I helped develop our first sustainability-focused strategic plan.”
Unity College Alum, Brooke DiPaula, works as a Wildlife Rehabilitation Coordinator with West Shore Wildlife Center.
West Shore Wildlife Center is a nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation center in southern Pennsylvania that provides services for sick, injured, and orphaned native Pennsylvania wildlife.
Brooke supervises interns, volunteers, and apprentices in wildlife patient care and care of non-releasable animal ambassadors, ensuring all internal protocols and safety measures are followed. She also does training, research, outreach, and more.
Unity College Alum, Rachel Hutchinson, works as a Shellfish Propagation Specialist.
“I just completed my degree at Unity with an MPS in Wildlife Management and Conservation on the Professional Biologist track. I chose Unity because it was flexible and 100% online and allowed me to obtain my degree while continuing to work full time in my career as a Shellfish Constable/Shellfish Propagation Specialist. Unity gave me the flexibility to complete coursework on my own schedule in a program focused on environmental professions.
I enjoyed the diversity of other students and professors at Unity, and the ability to interact with others around the county who are working in a vast variety of fieldwork. Unity allowed me to finish a Master’s program that I would never have been able to do in person while working full time.”
Unity College student, Tanner, took the Sustainable Solutions course with Professor Brittany Grutter.
“Hi! My major is Environmental Justice And Social Change. I chose Unity College because I knew the school has the same passion for the environment that I have. I am interested in learning more about the global environmental crisis. My curriculum will prepare me to not only to confront the problem at a general level but specifically as it pertains to the unequal effects of environmental disasters in society.
One big takeaway from my recent environmental sciences course, is that environmental science requires a different style of abstraction — the environment is almost like a special shape or form, requiring a different thought process. That idea shows up in the literature we are exposed to in our coursework.
Another aspect of the class I enjoyed, is that we are required to break from a certain common sense thought process and think more critically and scientifically, for example, meteorology is not climatology.
What I enjoyed most about the course was the opportunity to both share the core of myself, nature-lover, and to hone professional skills pertaining to a general area that I’d like to be personally engaged in — it’s very actualizing for me.”
Unity College student, Erin, took the Freshwater & Marine Resources course with Professor Amanda Moeser.
“I love taking classes with Unity College because the online format allows me to continue to work while I go to school. The classes are engaging, and the professors are always easily reachable if I have questions about the coursework.
I have always had a passion for caring for those that are unable to care for themselves. Through my studies at Unity College, I am learning that by working towards saving our ocean’s ecosystems we can not only save our ocean friends and their environment but also provide small coastal communities with food security.
It is my dream to be a tropical marine ecologist working with small coastal communities to help restore reef systems so that animals and humans can thrive. I believe the education that I gain from Unity College will be fundamental in helping me save as much of the ocean as I can.”
Meet Unity College student, Kat, recently took the Environmental Documentary Films course with Dr. Will Dodson.
“The class was a lot of fun, and I learned so much!
Currently, I working towards my degree in Animal Health and Behavior at Unity. I want to help animals have a voice. My goal is to give love and care to these animals that need our help, especially our wildlife.
I learned a lot from this course about the environment and how storms like Tropical Storm Isaias affect animals in the environment. I went through a lot of storms where I live in Pennsylvania, so I took the class at a perfect time to learn and document what I needed to with storms and connecting them to animals in my area!
I was familiar with Distance Education because I did online schooling in middle school and also graduated from an online high school. I found the online learning experience to be so much easier to understand growing up, so being used to the experience definitely helped me! But if you’re new to the online experience of having assignments and discussions online, I can guarantee Unity makes it so easy!
This class was an amazing experience. I learned so much from what the professor provided, from my own research, and from my classmates’ input as well!
This online experience is definitely something anyone can do and learn so much from, especially with the right determination you can do anything!”
Student Internships & Experiences
Work and Travel While Earning Your Degree
Unity College Student Talia is in the Master’s Program in Marine Science. Talia has spent years working with whales in Washington State, California, and Hawaii. She has carefully considered options for earning her Masters Degree. It is important to Talia that she does not need to be geographically tied to one place. Distance Education at Unity College has made it accessible for Talia to earn her degree while living and working wherever opportunities take her.
Internship at the Plumpton Park Zoo
Brooke interned at the Plumpton Park Zoo in Maryland working with exotic animals.
“The best part of the internships is being able to do them when it is convenient for me. I make my school schedule around when I am able to intern which is awesome. This way I can devote my time to working with the animals when it is needed for the facility,” Brooke explains.
Internship at the Nashville Zoo
Unity College Student Victoria Kennedy is in the B.S. in Wildlife Conservation Program. Victoria interned with the contact area department of the Nashville Zoo working with the kangaroos in the “Kangaroo Kickabout,” where the public is free to walk along an open-air pathway through the kangaroo enclosure. She feeds the kangaroos, cleans the enclosures, and monitors health concerns.
Last Updated on September 1, 2021