Geography graduates in sustainability jobs

As part of Sustainability Month this February 2022, we reached out to some of the geography alumnae that work within the sustainability teams at King’s College London. Below are accounts from five former students on how they are contributing to the sustainability goals of the university. Maria, Lavinia, Alexandra, Tasnia and Brooke recount how their degrees in geography have helped them in their current jobs.

Maria Rabanser, BA Geography, 2015 – Sustainability Officer

Photo: Maria Rabanser

I have always been passionate about sustainability, and growing up in the Dolomites I always felt connected to nature. It’s one of the reasons why I chose to study Geography, and ultimately pursued a career in sustainability. I wanted to have a career with a real and positive impact, and my role in the Sustainability Team allows me to do just that.

I have been with the team over five years, and have seen a lot of positive change in that time. In my role I manage projects around climate change, sustainability data and reporting, and Fairtrade. One of the things I enjoy the most about my role and the team is the community we have built. I lead the King’s Climate Action Network, which now has over 300 members across King’s, and our events often bring together everyone from undergraduates to senior members of staff to address climate issues at King’s and in the wider community.

The knowledge and skills I gained during my Geography degree have been very helpful in my role. As well as having a good background knowledge in sustainability and climate change, analytical skills and being able to work with, and communicate, complex information have been essential.

Lavinia Allen, BSc Geography, 2020 and MSc Climate Change: Environment, Science and Policy, 2021 – Sustainability Projects Assistant

Photo: Lavinia Allen

Hi everyone! My name is Lavinia and I’m a King’s alumni. My journey at King’s began in 2017 when I joined to study BSc Geography. This three-year course covered a range of topics from Biogeography and Ecology to Natural Hazards and Climatic Variability. Studying Geography confirmed my love for learning about and tackling environmental issues, more specifically climate change. As such, I continued at King’s to study MSc Climate Change: Environment, Science and Policy. Although the course was fully online due to Covid, I thoroughly enjoyed the year.

After four years of learning about environmental, economic, and social issues related to sustainability, I knew I wanted to work in this field to help make a difference. After graduating from my master’s in 2021, I joined the Sustainability Team at King’s as a Sustainability Projects Assistant. In my role, I am responsible for raising awareness and understanding of sustainability through staff and student engagement. I mainly do this through supporting the Sustainability Champions network, which is designed to highlight that all staff can contribute to sustainability. This is my favourite part of my role, as talk to staff from all different departments and support their sustainability journey regardless of their background.

Alexandra Hepple, BA Geography, 2018 – Sustainability Officer

Photo: Alexandra Hepple

My name is Alexandra Hepple, I studied BA Geography at King’s College London and graduated in 2018. I currently work as a Sustainability Officer in the King’s Sustainability Team.  

There wasn’t a crashing ‘moment’ of realisation that I wanted to work in sustainability, but rather a culmination of lots of little moments. I grew up watching Planet Earth documentary’s every Sunday night when I was little, which looking back definitely inspired my love of nature, wanting to explore and understand the world, and to protect life on our precious planet. I loved Geography at school, it was fascinating to be able to take a subject which allowed me to make sense of the world. I came into my own when studying Geography at university. I most enjoyed the modules which brought the social and environmental sides of sustainability together – such Gender and Development in the Global South and The Right to the City.  

I love my role as it is so varied, however the bulk of my work focuses on sustainable education and engagement. I get to work with amazingly passionate students and staff which brings a lot of joy to the role. Some of the projects I work on include the Sustainability Champions programme, the development of the KEATS Sustainability & Climate module, Sustainable Living Communities, and the Strand-Aldwych pedestrianisation project.  

My degree helped me with my career in sustainability as it aided me in understanding different perspectives and experiences on a deeper level and importantly, to be a critical thinker, which allows me to see where the gaps lie to advance sustainability further.  

Tasnia Yasmin, BSc Geography, 2020 – Sustainability Projects Assistant

Photo: Tasnia Yasmin

Hello! My name is Tasnia (BSc Geography, 2020) and I’m a Sustainability Projects Assistant in the Sustainability Team.

After graduating, I worked as the Vice President Welfare & Community at KCLSU which allowed me to work on lots of different issues such as increasing student support, EDI and community building with a variety of stakeholders from students right up to senior staff. I was able to shape and change plans to better the student experience ensuring that it was at the heart of what King’s does. 

I loved my undergraduate degree and, like many, I’m really passionate about sustainability and wanted to work in the sector but didn’t really know what to do. Being from a geography background, I always integrated sustainability where I could which allowed me to work on how to make sustainable education more accessible for students around King’s. Through both my roles, I was able to translate a passion into something practical as I get to work with different communities across King’s to ensure we are proactively working on being a more sustainable university.

Brooke Stead, BA Geography, 2021 – Campus Ambassador & Sustainability Champion

Photo: Brooke Stead (holding a big plant)

Hi! My name is Brooke and I am a recent Human Geography graduate. After graduating in Summer 2021 I became a campus ambassador whilst also a sustainability champion at King’s, attempting to integrate these into each other and make King’s facilities more sustainable and practical. With the recent momentum from COP26 sustainability continues to be at the top of every agenda, I think that justice and equality comes into sustainability and as King’s was recently crowned a top influential university so it is only right that it promotes sustainability goals. I really enjoy seeing students back in university and now have many ideas to help students and staff become more involved with sustainable practice.

My degree has allowed me to see challenges from different lenses to achieve sustainability on an environmental and social level, allowing sustainability to be accessible and the diversity of geography has meant I have developed greater communication skills, allowing me to present my ideas and further develop on them after feedback and discussion. I hope to apply to a job in the near future to further work with Kings towards their 2030 net zero goal. 

I also volunteer at hackney friends of the earth where I attend regular meetings and work on projects within the community and lobbying for environmental justice. 

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