A combination of public health coursework and skill-building internships inspired Stefany Campbell to pursue a career protecting the health of local communities.
“Humans have a huge effect on the environment in so many different ways,” says Campbell, who received her B.S. in public health and is enrolled in the Master of Public Health (MPH) program. “I want to make a difference in the quality of our environment and, in particular, correct the problems humans have created.”
She is well on her way to making that difference.
Campbell is gaining valuable real-world skills while working at two internships – one with The New England Consortium (TNEC), based at UMass Lowell, and another with Comprehensive Environmental Inc. (CEI), a civil engineering and environmental consulting firm.
Her extensive hands-on experience has paid off: CEI offered her a full-time job as a project scientist. She will begin full time once she graduates from the MPH program in December 2022.
Until then, she continues to intern at CEI, working alongside engineers and learning about the public and private sector in areas such as stormwater, wastewater and infrastructure.
“I love that even though I’m not an engineer, I’m an asset to them because my public health background brings a different perspective to the table,” she says.
Campbell tests water for contamination and completes water sampling at remediated hazardous waste sites to determine if contamination levels are increasing or decreasing over time.
“I’m always thinking about how the contamination could have been prevented in the first place,” she says. “If we can pinpoint the source of contamination or the human behavior that caused it, then we can determine safer alternatives for human use and better methods to dispose of chemicals.”
Gaining as much knowledge and experience as she can before completing her degree motivates Campbell.
“I am trying to set myself up for a successful future while I am still young,” she says. “If I didn’t come to UMass Lowell, I wouldn’t have the knowledge I do now, and I definitely wouldn’t have found these two internship opportunities that led to a job offer and an exciting career.”
As a trainer at TNEC, Campbell learned about chemicals with which workers can come into contact, and how to keep them safe with protective equipment. She also earned safety certifications to build up her skills and knowledge.
When Campbell was an undergraduate intern at TNEC and her internship hours came to an end, her training manager asked if she would work for them part time. The offer came with an incentive.
“TNEC said that if I stayed on, they would pay for me to get my master’s in public health at the university,” she says. “Who could say no to a life-changing opportunity like that?”