UC Irvine student Vanessa Gonzales, who is currently a Scottish Parliamentary Intern, was a recipient of the ACE Scholarship, and as a result was able to travel to represent UCI at a conference focused on sustainable development goals. Read Vanessa’s experience in her own words below:
The ACE Scholarship awarded me the means to participate in the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) Conference, at Lancaster University, this year. I received the opportunity to attend a conference with sustainability champions across the UK. The focus of this event was to educate and emphasize the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals. Participating in this conference allowed me to reevaluate my perspectives of change, through sustainability. Professors, students, and representatives of sustainable companies were present to share their ideas on how to involve more students in the sustainability initiative. Most of the representatives were from across the United Kingdom, and being the only person representing a California institution, was a truly rewarding experience.
Through the workshops, I compared our approaches at UCI, with ones taken at UK universities. The workshops were interactive; we were asked questions about how to solve current sustainability project issues. There was also a significant emphasis on how skills in the sustainability sector, will be needed for the next generation of leaders. This is important to me as student because we cannot expect future industry leaders to care about sustainability, if they have no knowledge about what it means or the means to incorporate it. Attending this conference, was an exchange of information, stories, and ideas about a topic I am very passionate about, in a different country other than my own. It gave me the opportunity to share the advancements and failed attempts at UCI, while learning the same from other UK sustainability representatives. I would not have been able to participate in this conference without the ACE scholarship.
I definitely encourage future study abroad students to apply for this scholarship. Although study abroad students already learn so much from being in a different country and interacting with their peers, it is an entirely different experience to collaborate with people who are highly involved in a field you are highly passionate about. It broadens your perspective of the ways in which you can collaborate with people around the world, to reach a similar goal.
Watch Vanessa’s EAUC experience here!