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Marcie Smith: Crafting Solutions

Marcie SmithWhen junior Marcie Smith, who is a William T. Young Scholar, came to Transylvania for her scholarship interview, she stayed with Charlene Rubio, who is now a senior. At the time, Rubio was majoring in international affairs, a major that’s not on the books at Transylvania, but one that can be created with approval from the academic dean.

“Charlene was heading down this path, and I knew that’s what I was looking for,” Smith said. “Because it is a self-designed major, it is individualized. You have some control over the courses you take. That made it appealing to me.”

Smith, from Richmond, Ky., is now working toward a double major in French and international affairs. “This combination allows me to take an interdisciplinary approach, and that flexibility has been great. I have a lot of interests, and I’ve been able to explore those while maintaining a coherency.”

The same can be said of Smith’s minor in environmental studies. “I just picked up the environmental studies minor,” she said. “I’ve never considered myself interested or good at the natural sciences, but I recently took Intro to Biology, and had I taken it my first year, I could see myself torn between Brown Science Center and Haupt Humanities.”

Smith also audited an ecology course and is spending this spring in Madagascar as part of an ecology and conservation program, where her love of French will come into play.

“I knew that I wanted to study abroad, and I knew that I was fascinated by Francophone Africa,” she said. “Madagascar seemed like a good fit because it also has this environmental focus.”

When she submitted her application to the program, Smith had to make a compelling case that her perspective was going to enrich the experience. “I was writing as a social science major applying for a program that was explicitly natural science,” she said. “I had to prove that I could contribute to the independent research portion of the trip.”

To that end, Smith is focusing on environmental policy or environmental security in Madagascar, which is the direction she plans to take after graduation.

“Whether I go directly into the workforce or to graduate school,” she said, “I want to focus on this emerging field that looks at national and international security priorities through an environmental perspective.”

Her interest in environmental work was born during the summer of 2006 when she interned at the Lexington Sister Cities Commission and saw the film, An Inconvenient Truth.

“I was moved,” she said, “and a group of us decided to host a screening of the film on campus. That turned into a showing at the Kentucky Theater followed by a panel discussion with (U. S. representative) Ben Chandler, (economics professor) Alan Bartley, and (biology professor) James Wagner.”

From there, Smith was instrumental in forming TERRA (Transylvania Environmental Rights and Responsibilities Alliance), Transy’s on-campus environmental group. She is no longer the head of TERRA, but watching the change in leadership has been a rewarding experience for her.

“I think my generation is trying to craft solutions,” she said. “That’s exciting, regardless of what the issue is.”

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