Emily Jenkins followed her passion her to conserve and preserve our planet all the way to California
FHC alumna Emily Jenkins stands on the cliffs of California’s Highway 1 overlooking a beach of elephant seals and smiles gleefully into a camera. Since moving to California for schooling at Point Loma Nazarene University, Emily has gone rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park, sightseeing in San Francisco, enjoyed the snow in Mammoth Lakes, explored Yosemite National Park, spied on sea otters and seals in Monterey, walked across the border to Tijuana, Mexico, hugged the redwoods along the coast, and so much more.
Emily’s desire to see the natural wonders of California drew her to Point Loma, and the thrill of going to live somewhere she had never been to before just made it all the better.
“I had never before been to California,” Emily said, “and the idea of living in a new, diverse place excited me. Here in California, we have the ocean, both warm and cold, a wide variety of marine mammals, cascading mountain ranges, desolate deserts, and an impressive number of national parks. These natural wonders drew me to California.”
Beyond her simple wonder at all of California’s natural wonders was a heightened desire to deepen and strengthen her passion to preserve and conserve our planet.
“If you knew me during high school, you most likely were aware of my passion for environmental health and justice,” Emily said. “This desire to preserve and conserve our planet has only further exploded since high school, and this passion fuels my entire life. My major, my life choices, my diet, my habits, my jobs, my internship, and my career path all have been influenced by my call to environmental stewardship.”
However, this passion has taken Emily further than just the California coast. Last spring she was accepted into a Neotropical Ecology course which took her to three different, diverse locations in Costa Rica to “learn through experience, hold intellectual discussions, and conduct research pertaining to biodiversity and conservation.”
“I absolutely loved this course,” Emily said. “We hiked up to eleven miles each day in the cloud forests, paramó habitat, the rainforest, and along the beach. Not to mention, this hands-on experience provided me with examples of conservation projects and approaches, broadened my understanding of the importance of biodiversity, and exposed me to new places.”
This opportunity to reach outside the boundaries of the U.S. was especially meaningful to Emily because she harbors a passion for international travel and hopes to one day live and work outside the U.S.
“One of my life goals is to study and/or work internationally,” Emily said. “The idea of this really excites me. I had the opportunity to attend The Island School in Cape Eleuthera, Bahamas, during my time in high school, and this experience has inspired my goal to live and or work outside of the U.S.”
Although her point of study at Point Loma has been environmental studies, she has learned a lot by simply living in a place different from the one she was raised in.
“Living in Southern California, my eyes have widened to the injustices that people around the world face every day,” Emily said. “I love the diversity of Southern California because it has helped to break stereotypes that I was subconsciously raised within Grand Rapids, MI.”
This change and growth of perspective has caused Emily to work towards more than just a healing of the natural world but healing for humanity as well.
“As I learn more, I yearn to discover ways to end systemic oppression, racism, and sexism in the United States and ultimately internationally,” Emily said. “I am constantly learning to empathize with people who are different than me and to listen to those unheard.”
On a more personal level, moving across the nation and living in an entirely new environment has stressed the value of getting out and getting uncomfortable.
“My adventure into California has taught me the value of living in new places,” Emily said. “Fully submerging yourself in a new culture will challenge and ultimately grow you! It is important to get uncomfortable because this leads to growth.”
Emily believes this growth to be a necessary part of every person’s journey and therefore encourages anyone who is pondering going far for college to just go for it.
“This experience has changed and shaped myself forever,” Emily said, “and I feel so fortunate to have the resources required to get me here. I am so, so thankful. By moving away, you will encounter people, experiences, and places so different from what you knew before. I would not trade my California college adventure for anything.”