Mark Danenhauer, a 2005 graduate, received a Special Merit award for his thesis entitled ”Determining the Optimal Degree of Local Involvement in the Management of a National Park”. Before coming to UIS, Mark spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar. He was awarded the Environmental Studies Alumni Award in 2004 in recognition of his exemplary dedication to environmental issues and demonstrated involvement in environmental projects.
“I graduated from the ENS program at UIS in 2005. During my time in Springfield, Illinois I completed my Masters degree in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development and also gained valuable real world experience working at the Illinois EPA. Graduate school was not easy, but it was a very rewarding experience that pushed me to better my academic and analytical abilities.
Of the many skills I acquired, the most valuable was to think critically. The class schedule gave me good knowledge in a wide range of areas, but working on and writing a Master’s Thesis was an incredible experience. It made me learn to take criticism and to be humble. At the time it was not easy to spend months working and writing my draft only to have it dismantled by my advisor. However, now I am grateful for the criticism and assistance that I was provided in all of my classes and with my Thesis. Without an advisor willing to put in the time and effort to improve my writing and work I would have never improved my own skills.
One of the things that I did enjoy about the ENS program was the small class sizes. In undergraduate school I was one of the hundreds of kids sitting in class, hiding behind my papers. At UIS the small class sizes allowed me to get engaged in classroom discussions, thereby gaining more from the classes, and to get to know the knowledgeable professors.
Another very unique bonus about being located in the State Capital is that many students are able to get a Graduate Public Service Internship. This is a program that helps locate graduate students with state agencies. Personally, I spent over two years working with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency while I was in graduate school. This is not an experience that most schools offer. I learned what it is like to work for the State Government.
I would recommend the ENS program at UIS to anyone that is looking for a school where they can gain real world experience while at the same time going to graduate school. The unique setting in the State Capital is a huge bonus to attending UIS.”
Visit Mark’s blog.