Congratulations to Victoria Yepez, our August Undergraduate of the Month! Victoria is a Geography major, concentrating in Development and Sustainability. She also is minoring in Global Poverty. You will often see her smiling face greeting visitors to our department at our front desk! Continue reading below to learn more about Victoria.
What are your interests within your program(s)?
I have experience working with Central and South American individuals, so I am very interested in Latin America as a region. Anything with a focus on gender, migration, poverty in relation to international development really inspires me! I love that Geography is so intersectional, so my courses often overlap a ton and each class touches on a variety of subjects I’m passionate about!
What previous jobs, internships, and volunteer experience have you had?
In High School, I did a summer internship program at the World Bank, IDB and IMF which really kick started my interest in international development. We created a mock development proposal to reduce deforestation in Mato Grosso, Brazil.
Since then, I’ve mostly worked for organizations that focus on consulting or international development. My internship at Humanitas Global this summer was centered on a project the organization was working on for the US Forest Service on pollinator conservation in the DC area. I went to multiple elementary schools in DC and engaged students with art and science to learn about the importance of pollinators in our world! So, it was part of my job to write memos, help with proposals and do intern duties, but I also got to volunteer my time at various community centers and schools, while also really getting to know the community we were working with.
Where are you/have you been interning?
This summer I had an AMAZING internship at a development agency in DC: Humanitas Global. My internship responsibilities were a little unusual, I was given a lot of power and trust (which was awesome, but kind of scary). Mostly, I was treated as part of the team, just another coworker, so I wrote memos, helped with proposals, wrote literature reviews and researched. I did social media management daily, where I handled their two twitters and did some website development.
What project(s) are you working on or contributing to?
We were on a contract with the US Forest Service to do pollinator initiative work in DC with elementary schools and community centers. Also, this work included engaging other community members, stakeholders and teachers on the importance of gardens. We created a School Garden Tour for DCPS, inviting individuals to tour model schools who had won garden grants, to hopefully inspire environmentally friendly efforts and gardening in schools!
My favorite thing I did was research pollinator habitats and pollinator-dependent crops in Africa for a contract for Syngenta. This research was so incredibly intriguing and really gave me insight on economic dependence and agriculture in Africa.
How is the internship experience relevant to your studies in Geographical Sciences?
My internship experience was very intersectional, just like Geography is! Although I’ve only taken one GIS class, I was constantly exposed to the relevance of GIS and Geography in public policy and the larger development field. With a lot of the pollinator conservation work we did in DC, I realized how geography and space can have both positive and negative aspects for many marginalized groups.
What are your career goals after your graduate?
I hope to continue exploring my interests in the field of public policy or international development. Food security and agriculture are two interests I would love to explore more. I would love to continue to study with a Masters Program.
What are some of your hobbies?
Zumba, yoga, traveling, reading, watching Netflix, eating sushi, exploring new places and dancing!
Where are you from?
What has been your favorite class at UMD? Why?
My favorite class has been Geography 423: Latin America! I loved it so much, I became the TA.
If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I have wanted to travel to Asia for forever! Not sure on the region or country, maybe Japan or Thailand but I am taking suggestions for places to go :)
If you were the ruler of your own country, what would be the first law you would enact?
Thank you for your answers Victoria. We love having you as a part of our department and know you will be a huge success in your future. Congratulations!