Vanessa Garcia Polanco ’18

What was your Major(s) and year of graduation?

2018, Environmental Resource Economics

Why did you choose to attend URI?

My developing interests in environmental issues and food systems fell into place with URI.

What have you done since graduation?

I received my masters from Michigan State, and after completing an internship in DC, it solidified the journey that I wanted to come back and work in policy. 

How were you involved in campus life at URI?

I was involved with a lot of activities at URI, including slow food groups, many faith based groups, and student senate. These prepared me to be interested in policy, politics and governance with a focus on “how do we govern our natural resources, our agriculture and food systems to shape our society.”

How did the honors program support and equip you as a student and a young professional?

Honors really equipped me with a lot of the skills to apply myself as a student leader, a student, and a young professional. It gave me skills to seek professional development opportunities that I didn’t know existed… didn’t think I was worthy of or that I could get them. I think the connection to honors really leveraged me to seek out more professional development and fellowships and support programs and spaces to make sure my intellectual curiosity and leadership skills were growing. The way honors is structured, it’s so intimate, from classes to capstone, to the building… you get to know a lot from each other and the professors. You get more mentorship, insight, especially with fellowships, you feel in an environment that is more cultivated and supported.

From my first climate change class I learned things I use today in my career. Creative writing, food systems. The community of support you feel so supported to push yourself and be our best self. You feel like you are in a smaller school in the bigger URI landscape. You feel really cared for.

What would you tell students thinking about the Honors program to help them prepare? 

Honors is going to give you another layer of community and support at URI. There are a lot of communities at URI and they aren’t cliquey – it’s a multi-layered community. I found it to be a really good home for my professional and personal pursuits.