Danielle Walczak of Lee, N.H., is a third-year student at the University of Maine who is determined to make a difference as an environmental journalist.
The journalism major with minors in sustainable food systems and creative writing is a reporter for The Maine Campus and a student news writer for the UMaine Division of Marketing and Communications. Walczak is also a member of the Honors College and Phi Beta Kappa honor society.
Why did you choose UMaine?
I chose UMaine for a lot of reasons, one of the big ones being location. Being able to be in the mountains, near the water and out in the woods is very important to me. UMaine provides that for me with Acadia, Baxter and even all the land trust paths throughout Orono. Another reason I chose UMaine was because of my visits. I got a sense people at UMaine cared about who I was as a person and were always willing to help. That has proven to be true for me; it’s a very positive environment.
What is the most interesting, engaging or helpful class you’ve taken at UMaine? Why?
Principles of Sustainable Agriculture would have to be one of them. Professor Eric Gallandt has a wealth of knowledge, but also makes sustainable agriculture something accessible to students. In a lot of environmentally related classes, I leave thinking, “How in the world am I going to make a change?” I left Eric’s class feeling empowered and equipped with the right information to make a difference, especially here in Maine.
What difference has UMaine made in your life, helping you reach your goals?
UMaine has helped me reach my goals by giving me so many options in my education. With such a wide variety of classes, I can be a journalism major while also taking on minors that allow me to delve into my passion for the environment. I think environmental thinkers are what the world needs most to enact social change right now and in future years, and UMaine has given me a dynamic environmental education to help me get started on that path.
Have you had an experience at UMaine that has shaped the way you see the world?
It’s hard to pick just one. As a whole, my experience with the Honors College has given me perspective in my life. It has forced me to question how I see and process the world. I have learned to question my own biases and to not be afraid to push past walls just because they make me uncomfortable. I think those are skills that make a huge difference, not just in class but also in how I perceive everything I do in my life.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
Get involved. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, even if you’re scared to. Take a wide range of classes and really seek out your interests. Go to all sorts of events. There are so many things happening on campus people should take advantage of.