Student Spotlight

Here's a snapshot of some of our ES students!

Also, check out what some of our ES alumni are up to after graduation!


Devan Patel '22Devan Patel

  • Major(s): Environmental Studies (General)
  • Minor(s): Biology
  • On-campus involvement: Founder and Co-President of Pre-Health club, A&P teaching assistant (since fall 2019), Intro to GIS tutor, Vice President of NSLS, Student Sierra Coalition, GREENetwork liaison, Beta Beta Beta member, 2019 Weir fellow- implementing an Action Research Project.
  • Off-campus involvement:  Emergency Medical Technician, Carle Bromenn volunteer, Backyard Vegetable garden, Marine aquarium

“The support and the advantages the Environmental Studies program provided me cannot be overstated. The ES department not only helped me to understand relevant topics like climate change, but they pushed me to understand all aspects of it. As a pre-health and an out of state student, they went above and beyond to encourage my interest in the environment as well as supporting my interests in pre-health.”

Emma Ottinger '23

  • Major(s): English and Environmental StudiesOttinger
  • Minor(s): Philosophy
  • On-campus involvement: tutor at the Ames Writing Center, Assistant Editor for Tributaries, and Secretary for the Sierra Student Coalition

“Something I’ve always loved about the ES program is that it attracts all kinds of people. “Environmental Studies” is such an expansive term—it hosts a broad range of aspirations, so that the friends I’ve made therein all seem to use their knowledge for different purposes. I find that near-universal applicability of ES to be really exciting, and it's given me a greater sense of connection to my education.”

Amanda Bonavida '22

  • Major(s): Environmental Studies (Ecology)Amanda Bonavida sitting on a bench smiling
  • Minor(s): Biology
  • On-campus involvement: Sierra Student Coalition member, Circle K International member, Alpha Gamma Delta.
  • Off-Campus involvement: Santa Monica Mountains (California) Restoration volunteer.

“Being an out-of-state student, having a community who would welcome my alternate perspectives and allow me to broaden my knowledge was key. The supportive faculty and the encouraging students in the Environmental Studies Program have pushed me to strive towards achieving my goals, personal and academic.”

Refugio Moreno '21

  • Major(s): Environmental Studies (General) and PsychologyPicture of Refugio Moreno
  • On-Campus Involvement: Vice President of the Sierra Student Coalition, Co- President of the Peace Garden, Student Representative of SALSA, and also a member of the Black Student Union, Men of Color, and IWU Bee Keepers.
  • Research Experience: Involved in psychology research that is currently in development.
  • Study Abroad Experience: Galapagos Islands (Spring 2020) 

"The ES program has been very involved in my success here at IWU, and without the wonderful professors and advising that I've had, the opportunities that I've had within the ES program would not have been attainable." Contact Refugio


Emily Schirmacher '21Emily Schirmacher, smiling to camera while posing for a photo during a hike

  • Major(s):  Environmental Studies (International Environmental Sustainability)
  • Minor(s): English
  • On-campus Involvement: Residential Community Advisor of Munsell Hall, Co-President of the Peace Garden, Member of GREENetwork, Titan Band Drummer, Peace Corps Prep Program, Environmental Studies Student Worker, Sigma Tau Delta member, Founder of Student Advisory Committee, Pi Sigma Alpha member
  • Off-campus Involvement: Intern for West Bloomington Revitalization Project
  • Study Abroad Experience:  Polar Biology in Denmark and Arctic Norway (Fall 2019)

"The experiences and endless amounts of support from the IWU Environmental Studies community have helped me flourish into the passionate person that I am today. With these tools, I have taken a love for nature and shaped this into a realization that my dreams of having a career where I can work towards a more sustainable future can and will become a reality."  Contact Emily.

Leah Bieniak '21Leah Bieniak posing for a photo in a white lab coat.

  • Major(s):  Environmental Studies (Ecology)
  • On-campus Involvement: Sierra Student Coalition, Spanish and Latino Student Association, The Muslim Student Association,GREENetwork, Environmental Studies student worker, TA for the Principles of Ecology Course (fall 2019)
  • Research Experience: Will be conducting a two-year research project on breeding birds in the city limits of Bloomington-Normal and is an Eckley Summer Scholar (summer of '19)
  • Study Abroad Experience:  Barcelona (Spring 2020)

"From my very first visit to Illinois Wesleyan, the Environmental Studies Program has been an amazingly supportive and encouraging community. Within the program I have found friends, mentors, and fellow environmentalists with whom I can share my passions for ecology and my hopes for a better future. The ES Program is helping me fulfill my goals of combating some of the world’s greatest problems, and I am grateful to be able to share the experience with so many other compassionate, intelligent, and motivated people."   Contact Leah.


NOTE: If you are an IWU Environmental Studies alumnus, let us know what you're up to! Feel free to contact our ES Student Assistant Emily Schirmacher at what some other ES alumni are up to here.