Catawba’s Day of Giving: Alumnus Elizabeth Howard’s Story

Catawba’s Day of Giving is October 13th. Elizabeth Howard, a 2017 Catawba graduate, shares what the Center for the Environment and Catawba College mean to her. Your donations help create meaningful experiences that provide Catawba students with tools that shape their future. When you give at https://www.givecampus.com/campaigns/15407/donations/new?pdesignation=CenterForTheEnvironment, you help provide more exciting experiential learning opportunities for students.

There were so many wonderful things about my time at Catawba; it is hard to know where to start. I spent two short years there, but I made so many wonderful friends and had incredible experiences. A few highlights include a summer internship as a wildlife educator in the Outer Banks, another as a soil researcher at the Biosphere 2, Arizona, a class trip to Bonaire where I was SCUBA certified, a funded independent study, and a presentation at a national conference in New Orleans.

One of the first impressionable experiences I had entering Catawba was at my interview for a prestigious scholarship; it was memorable not because I got the scholarship but because Dr. John Wear, the director of the Center for the Environment, was the one who interviewed me. I think I had excitedly and nervously rambled for most of the interview, but there was something he saw in me that compelled him to invite me to the Environmental Stewards program. From then on, the mentorship and friendship that I received through the Center defined my time at Catawba and made my undergraduate experience exceptionally special. From my favorite botany field trips camping and exploring across NC to independent studies collecting mosquito larvae and all of the wonderful connections I made in seminars and speaker events; the vast majority of my time was either spent directly in contact with the preserve, the incredible building, the amazing professors, or some other experience manifested from the Center’s presence. 

As a first-generation college student, I cannot overstate how important the guidance and opportunities that Catawba, the Center for the Environment, and everyone there has given me have been. Even after I graduated, I was able to join the Center’s team as a Sustainability Outreach Coordinator. There is no question about it, my journey through Catawba and now graduate school is inextricably linked to my experiences with the CENV and my relationships with the people there. Today, as I navigate my way through my Master of Environmental Management program at Duke, I look back, and I know that I would not be where I am today without everything the Center for the Environment has done for me.