Please tell us about yourself

Jeeva had recently arrived in the United States from India, where she already held a master’s degree in environmental economics, but was finding that most of the jobs that interested her required a degree earned in the U.S.

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When Jeeva realized she was going to have to complete a second master’s, she felt strongly that she did not simply want to rehash what she learned in India. Her first degree had focused on the economics of environmental science, so she decided to pursue a different track this time.

What did you study ?

Jeeva completed her Master’s in Environmental Economics from Madras School of Economics and Bachelor’s in Management Studies from Wilson College, Mumbai University.

The Graduate Center, CUNY was the obvious choice: It offered phenomenal faculty, flexibility, convenience, and, most importantly, the opportunity to really design their own courses of study. She both enrolled in the Graduate Center’s Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program, that complemented her prior degrees and career goals.

“I did the Sustainability Science and Education track within the Liberal Studies program,” Jeeva said. “I was particular that I wanted a different approach to studying environment, since this would be my second masters. I’d done an approach in India that was primarily economics as well as primarily theoretical, so I decided to do a liberal studies program so that I’d have more freedom in terms of how information was going to be given to me. My aim is to go into environmental policy. I was certain that I needed to be introduced to different approaches of appreciating the concept of sustainable development.”

How was the experience at CUNY?

The track Jeeva selected required her to take core classes at the Graduate Center, one of which was a field course in Barbuda. After that, she was free to choose electives from most departments within the Graduate Center, taking those that she and her advisor agreed would complement her degree. For Jeeva, the fieldwork was the absolute highlight of her experience.

“You can keep talking about climate change and sustainability development, but I think the field school helped me put a human face on food security and how people are being affected,” she said. “I wasn’t blind to it in India, but when you don’t experience it firsthand it’s always going to be different. The school experience was a really immersive one.”

During her time as a student at CUNY, Jeeva was also able to intern with the United Nations Development Programme. Since then, she’s been pursuing work at think tanks and environmental justice organizations.

“The system of teaching is different in India,” Jeeva said. There, “everything is given on the basis of an exam. Initially, even just writing assignments or writing courses were so different [here]. I was really intimidated by the system, because it’s so different here where everybody’s sitting and discussing the subject. But Professor Perdikaris was there to help me through the whole process.”

Your future plans?

Jeeva was doing the master’s so that she could then find full time work, ultimately spending just two years in the program. Throughout, having the support of her thesis advisor and mentor Sophia Perdikaris was crucial.

What are you doing currently?

Jeeva is working as Curriculum Developer at Ekya Schools Ekya Schools , Bangalore.

At Ekya, Ms. Jeeva builds the Geography curriculum for the Social Science Program and also looks into the development of the educator toolkit that aims to standardise the lexicon used by our teachers. Prior to Ekya, she worked with PCI Media Impact, a behaviour change communication firm, based in New York. She has also worked with UNDP projects in the Caribbean and with the IUCN Commission on Education and Communication as a Programme Officer.

Ms. Jeeva believes that educators are change agents who are uniquely positioned to inspire the next generation to become inclusive human beings, deep thinkers, and responsible citizens.

Tenacious and positive at work and beyond. Ms. Jeeva’s passion lies in protecting natural spaces and species. In the past, she has volunteered with turtle mapping groups in protected areas. She enjoys exploring cuisines and local cultures through travel, movies, art, and craft. She is an amateur painter whose latest project is restoring lustre to a 40-year- old trunk she found in the attic.