At a Glance

Year: '23
Major: Environmental Science
Activities: Honors College, Resident Advisor, COP28, Study Abroad, Society of Environmental Scientists, Internships

Environmental Science BS

As an environmental science major, you'll gain the tools needed to address today’s environmental and sustainability challenges.

Starting college amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Aya Oulal ’23 never imagined what she would accomplish as an undergraduate at UML.

“It was something I never thought could happen, especially with COVID,” the honors environmental science alum says.

Oulal spent her first year of college in the confines of her home in Everett, Massachusetts. As times looked bleak, she found comfort in her virtual classes by connecting with students through group work.

She initially enrolled at UMass Lowell as a civil engineering major, but switched to environmental science during her first semester after speaking with Lori Weeden, a teaching professor in the Department of Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

“I had one conversation with her, and I was like, ‘This is it,’” Oulal recalls.

By the time sophomore year arrived, Oulal was excited to be on campus for classes as COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed. She connected with students she had met virtually and finished the year with a six-week study abroad trip to Valencia, Spain, with Sociology Assoc. Teaching Prof. Thomas Piñeros Shields.

While in Spain, she interned for Valencia’s Climate Emergency Service and Energy Transition Department, where she familiarized herself with the city’s climate plan.

“It was amazing,” says Oulal, who adds that studying abroad “gave me hope” amid the pandemic.

Oulal became a resident advisor during her junior year, which she says was “genuinely my favorite experience in college.” She enjoyed building friendships with fellow resident advisors and helping students as they adjusted to college.

She later landed a summer internship with the city of Everett, where she helped assess and evaluate tree conditions to mitigate the urban heat island effect.

During her senior year, she traveled to Dubai to attend COP28, the annual United Nations climate summit, as a member of the UMass Lowell delegation. 

“Every COP is a piece of history, and we got to be a part of that history,” she says. “COP inspired me.”

After finishing her bachelor’s degree a semester early in December 2023, Oulal returned to Everett, this time for an internship as an energy advocate and sustainability planner.

Oulal’s experiences at UML have motivated her to pursue a career in city planning. She is preparing to begin a master’s program in urban and environmental policy and planning at Tufts University.

“UMass Lowell was great,” she says. “I don’t think I would have done so much or even considered this path for myself without the university.”

Why UML?

Aya Oulal.

“It’s a big school, but my major was small enough that it felt personalized.”