Shanna Grafeld ’05 is an ecological economist currently serving as a corporate responsibility analyst at Regency Centers in Jacksonville, FL. Prior to joining Regency Centers, she was a freelance academic researcher focusing on small-scale fisheries valuation, fisheries value chain tracing, and assessing the ecological, social, and cultural values of coral reef fisheries. During that time, Shanna worked with a wide variety of partners from the private sector, non-profits, academia, and inter-governmental organizations. Shanna holds a bachelor’s degree in the study of natural resources from Oregon State University, as well as a master’s degree in natural resources and environmental management from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
What inspired you to pursue a career dedicated to ecological sustainability?
I was always interested in environmental issues as a kid. My family spent a lot of time hiking and camping each summer and when I was a girl scout I completed every nature-related badge available. Sustainability has really been a lifelong interest of mine.
How do you think your time at Kellenberg Memorial helped to prepare you for your success in your academic and professional pursuits?
Kellenberg absolutely helped to prepare me for success in my academic and professional career. When I started as an undergrad I was so thankful for how well prepared I was. In academia, most of your success is dependent not on your inherent intelligence but on your work ethic, resourcefulness, and organizational skills. I’ve seen some highly intelligent but otherwise unprepared students struggle in basic coursework. Intelligence will get you through the door but work ethic will make you successful. Kellenberg didn’t just give me a good foundation academically, but also made sure I was prepared for college with the tools necessary to succeed at that level.
Do you have any advice for current students or young alumni who are interested in pursuing careers in the field of environmental science and sustainability?
Environmental science and sustainability is a large and rapidly growing field that spans academia, government, nonprofit, private sectors, and inter-governmental organizations. I’ve had the opportunity to work with each of these sectors and my research has brought me around the world. One of my best pieces of advice would be to learn statistics early. The more comfortable you are analyzing data and statistical models the better. Also if you’re interested in a career in academic science, it’s very important that you develop good writing and storytelling abilities. It will make a world of difference in how impactful your research articles are. Being successful in science is 60% your ability to conduct good science and 40% your ability to communicate your science to others.
Do you have any favorite teachers, coaches, or club moderators from your time at Kellenberg Memorial?
I have so many! This is a very difficult question because I was also in Brother Fox Latin School so I really grew up at Kellenberg. In high school, I had such a huge range of interests (I still do) and I’m very grateful that I had so many positive influences. The entire cheerleading coaching staff, Mr. Blanton in chorus, and all of my homeroom teachers were very influential. Mrs. Klimkowski stands out because she was an unbelievably supportive teacher and really encouraged me to pursue environmental science as a career. I also am very appreciative of Brother Nigel who continued to encourage me to live up to my academic potential and pursue science even when I wasn’t sure about that direction.