Anna's essay

It was a hot and humid summer day in Texas when I joined my mom to check the water gauges for some houses at the end of town. At the time, I was in middle school and looked to this task as a chore, but I was eager to come along for fresh air and a possible frog encounter. Mom and I would quickly record the measurements for accounting purposes and head home. Little did I know that this task would end up being a vital part of the Water Management field I now pursue as a career. Arriving at this consensus took several years before coming to fruition.

Fast forward a few years and I believe I can speak for most juniors in high school that it is an exciting but confusing time as a massive professional transition awaits. I had difficulty deciding on a college degree path. My passion encompassed a broad range of topics and I was confident that I wanted to have a career that helped people and the environment. It was not until my brother was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma that I was determined to have a career that would incorporate human health. I could not help but wonder if the food we ate, the air we breathed or the water we drank played a role in my brother's diagnosis. Around the same time, I was enrolled in an environmental science course that exposed me to the realities of how environmental issues can be closely tied to our health. As my brother's cancer progressed, so did my studies. I became passionate about the necessity of healthy food, clean water, and air quality.

After weeks of searching, I discovered the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University that achieved the career goals I was aspiring to find. Upon arrival in Phoenix, the first thing I noticed was the desert and how starkly different it was from my north Dallas home. I was awestruck about how the Valley of the Sun was able to thrive in a barren desert, let alone even exist, and it demanded me to consider how my new home acquired clean and sustainable drinking water.

While I started diving into the sustainability world, I began research at the Decision Center for A Desert City at the Global Institute of Sustainability. I discovered how water, this precious resource, was managed and made available to the general public of Arizona. As a research aide, I engaged with a wide variety of stakeholders – from individuals in elementary school to the most influential water professionals in Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas, and Nevada. My primary role in this position was to survey students from elementary school to high school about their understanding of water in Arizona and its relation to climate change. Through this experience, it reminded me how water touches every aspect of life and that water is extremely volatile in the face of climate change.

As my time closed with the Decision Center for A Desert City, I was thrilled to begin a new chapter of my life at Salt River Project as an intern. This new opportunity exposed me to the professional water field from a new perspective. During my time here, I have attended meetings between Salt River Project and city managers across the Phoenix metropolitan area, engaged with Central Arizona Project, and have assisted my diverse colleagues with various projects within the office related to water rights. I have collaborated with individuals that specialize in legal matters at all levels including surface water and groundwater hydrology, geographic information systems, and many other vital fields that aid water management in Arizona. Through this exposure, I have interacted with varying stakeholders with unique perspectives that reveal the complexity and diversity of water management in a desert climate. One of the most pressing issues within the Water Resources Department is the multiple impacts of climate change on our water supplies.

Developing sustainability frameworks for Arizona's water resources will determine the future of Arizona and it requires collaboration, reliable technology and educating the public. For these reasons, I am continuing my studies at Arizona State in pursuit of a Masters of Sustainability Solutions to learn more about applying sustainability principles within law, policy and international affairs to tackle these unprecedented issues. I believe water is the pinnacle of a sustainability issue and I am enthusiastic about learning more about tackling these intricate obstacles for the present and future. My reading water meters in my early years was an unforeseen foretelling to my life's passion. Each step of the way has opened my eyes to the complexities and undeniable interdependence water and sustainability and climate change have in our world.