1. Being the white Muslim daughter of 2 Bosnian immigrants, I struggled with the troubles of being both first generation American and a first generation college student. My entire life I was accused of lying about my religion and being a “fake Muslim” simply because I chose not to wear a hijab. My growth was hindered as I feared to make my religious and cultural identity known; the Yugoslav wars left tensions across the world high for Bosnians and other former-Yugoslavian countries. I feared to be hurt or insulted for my identity, and faced constant ridicule from my peers about my parents lack of English proficiency. My educational growth was extremely impacted by my younger self being unable to speak or understand English. In kindergarten, I was placed into English learning classes, I was the only non-hispanic kid. The teachers utilized Spanish-English lessons, and I was left clueless. Eventually, I had learned English but I remained a clear target for my peers. My speaking was easily noticeable by its thick accent and slight lisp. I never even noticed I had an accent until it was pointed out to me by a cousin of mine. I am now proud of my identity and my ability to speak proficient English. I may be unorthodox in the sense that I clearly do not follow controversial charcteristics of Islam, but my idenity should not be diminished. I have chosen the path of self love and have overcome the obstacles of discrimination that plagued me in the past.
2. The field of STEM and its sub-areas are often monopolized by men, this fact is intimidating. Men are often awarded positions more frequently than women and gain higher pay for the same jobs that women hold. This offers a strict barrier to success, but it is not as concrete as many believe. Through careful networking and a focus on internships and academic research, I believe I will be able to overcome these sexist barriers put into place by the patriarchy. I also see the possibliity of religious discrimination as the conservation workforce is primarily Christians or Atheists/Agnostics, I will no longer be censoring my identity for the sake of the comfort of others. Finding an equitable and supportive community to support me endeavors in the field of conservation is crucial for the breaking of barriers on my path to becoming involved. I am more than my identity, and I will break any barriers down.
3. Throughout my academic and extracurricular career, I have found myself gravitating towards educating myself and others on sustainable living as change only needs to take root in a single person to flourish and bloom. Mother nature is so carelessly mismanaged. The key to our Earth’s restoration is through smaller efforts in an organized manner where it will allow passionate individuals to effectively implement the seed of change. It is my responsibility as a global citizen to make an effort to lessen the impacts of our capitalistic society that placed profits above the health of our planet. In the years prior to even fathoming I could ignite change, I witnessed the degradation of wildlife in my family’s hometown in rural Bosnia. The Sana river, a beautifully fierce body of water that enriched everything around it, had always been so clear it reflected its surroundings and its banks beamed with native flora and fauna. I initially only noticed the darkening of the water and maybe fewer visits from local deer, but as our annual trips persisted it had only gotten worse, far worse. What was once a beautifully healthy river, was now the final destination for littering locals and pollutants. The Sana had no hope until a fateful day in June of 2013 where I decided I had enough of the constant moping around with my grandmother about a cycle that would never truly end in our world. I gathered a few neighbors, family members, and friends, and marched a mile to where the river met my favorite park. We got to work. Nobody could decide if leaving with several trash bags filled to the brim with litter was a joyous feeling, or rather a disappointed one. With time, it proved to be relieving and rewarding. Over the course of 7 years and 3-5 annual clean-ups, the Sana was given a new life from its committed community of Sanski Most, the very community that left it in ruins. Nature is forgiving and it is something we must all remember. Our chance at rebuilding our environment is within our grasp, we just need to take the first step.
4. Natural resource depletion is the bottom line of any major environmental catastrophe: overpopulation, pollution, loss of biodiversity, and more. It all draws down to the basic principle of humanity inevitably lacking the proper environments and resources for our continuation as a species. We treat our Earth as if we have another one lined up for it once it ultimately fails: we dump trash at inhumane rates in alien-like quantities, we are obsessed with disposable culture, and we do not measure how our resource depletion may affect our Earth on a major scale. As human beings, the concept of self preservation is buried deep within us, it raises issues such as greater, unsustainable, and unreasonable resource usage. Resource depletion has become all too common within the 21st century and is swiftly pulling us closer to complete extinction. I intend to aid in the global restoration of resources through carefully crafted policies fixated on tax incentives of sustainable alternatives. Pursuing a career in environmental law will allow me to create definitive differences, specifically through passing policies on sustainable agriculture, efficient and renewable energy, conservation, and the reduction of single-use plastics. I aim to reduce the depletion of naturally-occurring resources in order to generate economic boosts and societal benefits through sustainable practices.