Meet Michaela Jackson
Degree: BA Environmental Studies & Sustainability + MS Science Communication
Minor: Public Health
Co-ops: Campaign Assistant, The Humane League; Developer’s Assistant, EDF Renewable Energy; Green City, Clean Waters Engagement Intern, Philadelphia Water Department
Michaela Jackson on her co-op with the Philadelphia Water Department: “The Philadelphia Water Department works with the Mural Arts Program of Philadelphia to bring water-themed murals and art pieces around the city,” Jackson says. “These are the Fountain Steps, which were created by international artist Paul Santoleri. I had the pleasure of working with him to create a mural on a green infrastructure site in Roxborough.”
Extracurricular activities: Clinton Global Initiative, Italian Club, Sierra Club
Michaela Jackson has carved a unique path through the fields of environmental studies and communications, gaining experience in the government, nonprofit and industry sectors and confidence in her voice as an environmental communicator.
Tell us about your co-op experiences. How have they affected your Drexel experience or career path?
I was lucky enough to have a diverse co-op experience. My first co-op was at the Humane League, where I acted as a campaign assistant to the Philadelphia Director. I was responsible for writing the Humane League's recommendations for the National Dietary Guidelines, creating social media content and helping to recruit new volunteers.
My second co-op was at EDF Renewable Energy, which is a French company that develops renewable energy. I worked as a developer's assistant out of the Philadelphia office, where I had the opportunity to research changing trends in the solar market and identify and present new sites on the East Coast for potential solar development.
At my final co-op, I worked with the Philadelphia Water Department as a “Green City, Clean Waters” outreach assistant. I worked with the Public Affairs division and four district specialists to educate citizens on the City's innovative twenty-five-year storm water management program. I was even asked to present at a community meeting in South Philadelphia. I also assisted the Water Department's head writer in creating blog posts for the City's green infrastructure blog.
All of my co-ops were different, and I am extraordinarily grateful for the opportunities they provided me. They encouraged me to try classes that I never imagined I would take, such as Public Relations and Environmental Economics. I was able to identify the skills I would need to succeed on my ideal career path.
What has made your experience at Drexel “special” or “unique?
A unique aspect of my Drexel experience comes from not having been as involved in extracurriculars or academic clubs as the average student. It's not a story you hear much: the college student who wasn't heavily involved in clubs and the vibrant social life offered by the school. I was shy and chose to devote most of my time to academics. Throughout the years, my academic pursuits allowed me to become more comfortable socially. I made friends in classes when I normally would not have approached anyone. Teachers became mentors, and I made connections on co-op that will allow me to pursue my dream career when I graduate. Through academics, I learned how to become more involved in the world around me. I learned not to stifle my curiosity. I learned not to fear asking questions or approaching professors for help. I became a more outspoken, vibrant individual who is now confidently pursuing her dreams.
What advice do you have for a high school student looking for an undergraduate program in environmental studies?
My advice would be to explore classes that you might not normally be interested in. The environmental studies and sustainability program is extremely interdisciplinary, so it can be difficult to see what career path you want to take. Because the program allows you to substitute some core classes with relevant electives, you gain the unique opportunity to tailor your major based on the classes and programs you know you might like or succeed in.
Why would you recommend your degree program at Drexel to prospective students?
Being a BA/MS student is an amazing experience. You are able to interact with professors and graduate students in a way that most undergrads do not. This allows you to ask them questions about their experiences and opens new doors of opportunity for you as an undergraduate. In my experience, graduate students and professors are eager to help and offer some of the best career advice. The communications department at Drexel, which housed my graduate degree, also has some amazing resources. I received frequent emails about job and internship opportunities that are available to those in the department. These emails are a fantastic chance to get an idea of what jobs are available and what you might want to apply for as you near graduation.
Post-graduation update: Jackson is currently the Public Health Outreach and Program Coordinator at the Hepatitis B Foundation.