Where Are They Now? Natalie Tinsen interviews Sanauz Alaei

In our “Where Are They Now?” series, current student interns interview former interns about their experience at the Office of Sustainability, and in particular how that experience has helped them since graduation. In the following entry, Natalie Tinsen relates her conversation with Sanauz Alaei.

Sanauz Alaei stands in front of a canyon with a blue sky above
Former Office of Sustainability intern Sanauz Alaei.

Sanauz Alaei ‘20 graduated from UW-Madison in the depths of COVID-19, earning a BS in Environmental Science and Agriculture and Applied Economics as well as a certificate in Environmental Studies. Today, Sanauz continues her academic journey as a graduate student at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, where she is pursuing her Masters of Professional Science in Marine Science and enjoying the sunny weather. After completing her Masters, she hopes to earn a PhD and, eventually, run a research lab that is sustainable, inclusive, and welcoming.

Sanauz was an intern for the Office of Sustainability (OS) from June 2019 to May 2020. Coming into the internship, Sanauz was excited to try new projects and branch out of her comfort zone. She served on the Green Labs, Green Office, Social Sustainability Coalition, and the Communications teams. The internship prepared Sanauz to work collaboratively with other campus entities and communicate her work effectively with the certification teams.  Sanauz recounted that her favorite memory from the internship was the summer session field trips. “The field trips were a great way to visualize what you are working towards within sustainability, the impacts you have on your community, and they were super fun!”

Woman's face snorkeling
Sanauz Alaei working on her diving certification!

Her time as an intern prepared her for graduate school by helping her “learn how to interact with professionals and communicate with them [in a way] that is engaging and also professional.” The biggest lesson she learned from the OS can be summed up in two words: “Communication and Collaboration.” Much of her graduate research requires an extensive amount of time, incorporates interdisciplinary perspectives, takes in account a lot of stakeholders, and involves collaboration with other participants. 

Sanauz is grateful for her experience at the OS and is excited to continue her sustainability-focused academic journey. The OS has given her a knowledge base and skill set that she has been able to apply in graduate school. Academically, Sanauz wants to focus on coral studies and the University of Miami offers her hands-on learning experiences. She has specifically enjoyed learning how to GIS coastal zones, marine statistics, conservation biology, and she is getting her certification in diving: “I am then able to take science underwater applied classes!” The University of Miami also has a graduate student committee and Sanauz plans to start beach clean ups on weekends! 

More information about the Office of Sustainability intern program available here