Alicia Ritzenthaler

Environmental Science


Class Year: 2010

  • Environmental Protection Specialist, District of Columbia DOEE

How did your UE education impact your career?

UE offered me the opportunity to explore my interests. Because I wasn't constrained to taking a prescribed set of courses each semester, I was able to pick and choose classes each semester that most interested me. At the start, I probably seemed a little aimless, but eventually it became clear my interests were converging on environmental science. I might not have gotten there if UE hadn't provided the breadth of courses and flexibility for me to chart my own path.

What advice do you have for current UE students?

Keep choosing classes, labs, and experiences based upon your interests and you'll find your way.

How did your undergraduate experiences prepare you for postgraduate/career?

I graduated with a really strong understanding of ecology, especially at the ecosystem level. This not only prepared me for grad school, but it also continues to serve as the knowledge base I rely on now as an environmental scientist.

Reflecting on the community of UE, how did that shape you as a student?

The most meaningful, impactful aspects of my time at UE have been the relationships I built while there. In the classroom, my professors set high expectations and pushed me hard, but they always met me where I was. If I was committed to learning something, faculty would always match my effort to make sure I succeeded. And that goes for all professors, not just my major’s professors. Because of the rigor, graduate school was easy in comparison. Outside the classroom, it sounds cliche, but the friends I made at UE are friends that I will have for life. More than 10 years after graduation, they still remain an integral part of my day-to-day life. I cannot imagine my life without them.