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Alumni Stories

The Master of Environmental Studies program has taken our alumni all around the world and into myriad industries and roles. Read on to learn more about how alumni have leveraged their degree to help preserve, protect, work with and study the natural world.

  • Greg Kelder

    Vice President of Claims, Brandywine Group of Insurance and Reinsurance Companies

    Education:

    Master of Environmental Studies '10, Concentration: Environmental Policy; Bachelor of Arts, State University of New York at New Paltz, '83; JD, Rutgers University Law School '87

    Greg Kelder was named Dean's Scholar in 2009 for his impressive achievements as a student in the MES program. An insurance lawyer working in environmental litigation for the last two decades, he concentrated in environmental policy.

    In the spring of 2008, Greg and another student accompanied MES lecturer and advisor Stan Laskowski as representatives of Penn and the US Environmental Protection Agency on a trip to Jordan to help train officials from nations from North Africa and the Middle East on institutional capacity building as it relates to environmental work. Greg led his own session at this meeting. "Government leaders, representatives of NGOs and business leaders from around the world gathered to focus on solving the world's water crisis," he says. "It was an amazing experience."

    Greg also attended the 2008 World Water Week Conference in Stockholm, Sweden, with a group of Penn students. This week-long event was attended by several thousand water experts from around the world. While at the conference, Greg participated in discussions related to water policy and regulation.

    In January of 2009, Greg was chosen by the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership to be one of only three non-MBA students to participate in the Wharton Antarctica Leadership Venture.

    He has also been instrumental in helping to develop fundraising and legal help for the Philadelphia Global Water Initiative, which brings together groups from the Philadelphia region who work on water-related problems and policy locally and worldwide.

    "I'd been keeping my eye on the MES program and finally began it 20 years out of law school," he says. "It was wonderful and gave me a different appreciation for environmental issues. The insurance industry has been at the forefront of pollution risk assessment for years, but I wanted to get on the other side of pollution and learn about ways of preventing it before it happens. MES is a remarkable program. I enjoyed every single course I've taken, and it was really an enlightening and fascinating experience."

  • Veronica Lee

    Environmental Officer, USAID, China

    Education:

    Master of Environmental Studies/International Multi-Master of Environmental Management, '10, Concentration: Natural Resource Management; Bachelor of Arts, Bryn Mawr College, '05

    "I studied anthropology as an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr and was confronted most with the cultures of the developing world. I began the MES program, concentrating in natural resource management, because I knew I could learn more about the sustainable development of these areas. After one year of studying within MES I was able to take part in the multi-master's program that brought me to France and then China to study at Mines ParisTech and Tsinghua University, respectively.

    "During my studies, I gained hands-on, real-world experience that directly translated into my professional life after graduation. Some example projects included: creating a map to account for all inputs and outputs in the iron and steel industry of Handan, China, to develop a system of industrial symbiosis in the city; creating a CDM business plan for biomass production that would help procure carbon credits on the European market; and creating an urban plan for entry in an eco-city planning competition in Northern China.

    "I graduated from the MES program in 2010 and am now working as the project manager for an urban design and architecture firm that works on environmentally and culturally sound planning for rural China. Every day I use the skills and experience I gained through the MES program to ensure the sustainable development of some of the most underdeveloped areas of China."

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