Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Allison Sribarra

Name:Allison Sribarra
Age: 32
Education (UR and additional): B.A. in Environmental Studies, University of Rochester, 2002; M.A. in Public Policy, University of Maryland, 2011.
Current city/state of residence: Silver Spring, MD
Job Title: Conservation Policy Coordinator
Employer: Defenders of Wildlife
Family: husband, Kartik and 3-month old son, Khai
Community activities: participant in the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders program, class of 2011-2012

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I loved Rochester’s campus and since I thought I was going to be a biology major, I wanted a school with a  strong science program.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

Immediately after graduation, I traveled to India and Germany before moving to Portland, Oregon. It took me a little while to find a permanent job in Portland but I took the opportunity to try a few different things, including a job with AmeriCorps. I used the skills I honed during my term of service to land a permanent job at a non-profit land trust in Portland.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I currently work at Defenders of Wildlife, a national non-profit organization dedicated to protecting biodiversity. I work on a team of people who advocate for policies that help to conserve wildlife habitat on public and private lands. I chose this career because I believe that protecting biodiversity is a fundamental part of ensuring a healthy environment for us all.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

Science literacy is huge when working for an environmental non-profit. Although I’m not a scientist, I often find myself reading scientific journal articles to prepare for writing an advocacy piece, a policy memo or preparing for meetings with Congressional staff. The solid grounding I have in the natural sciences because of the classes required for my major at U of R.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

Long hours are going to be a given at some point if you work for a non-profit organization. In order to make sure that working long hours doesn’t become a norm for me, I prioritize and make lots of lists to keep myself organized. Unless there is something urgent, I try to leave the office by 5:30 every day and remind myself that it will all be there tomorrow. This gives me time in the evening to spend with my family.

What advice do you have for current students?

Recognize that you may not know what it is that you want to do right away. Give yourself opportunities that challenge you to learn new skills and put you outside of your comfort zone.