SNRE Welcome Letter

Dana Building in spring

I was admitted into the University of Michigan for a master’s program a few weeks ago and recently accepted the offer. The acceptance letter came as a total surprise since I was sure that my low-ish GRE quant score would bar me from getting in — but I guess the research, internship, and work experiences made up for that. I really couldn’t believe what happened for about a week after I got the letter, but it’s kind of sinking in now….  I’ll probably be spending the next few weeks applying for grants and scholarships to help fund my first year. I have already gone to meet one of my advisers to chat about funding options but will go more officially on Visit Day, which is March 23.

This mailing from the new dean of the School of Natural Resources was sent out to new students today — even though it was a mass mailing, it mentioned so many things I’m interested in (particularly working alongside people from other disciplines, “walking the walk” of sustainability, and Peace Corps) that it really makes me excited to start.

I was lucky to have a lot of moral support from close friends and fellow scholars as an undergraduate. I got research experience and preparation for graduate school as a McNair Scholar ( including application workshops, funding workshops, a research methods course, GRE prep, trips to present research, and more) as well as support from close friends who have already gone through the process (including some who are nearly done with their programs). I am really lucky to be regularly surrounded by ambitious people who also happen to love what they do. One thing I look forward to doing is “paying it forward” by perpetuating this culture to those around me, most importantly to young people who are still curious about the world around them. I guess that is the whole reason why I went into education — I am really into this idea of cultivating bright, creative, compassionate minds to direct our world right (in a scientifically-sound way).

Wow, that got idealistic fast! (If only my idealism could generate money.) Anyway, here was the mailing they sent out that got me thinking about all this! I can’t wait to start.

Dear Sara,

Welcome to the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan!  I am delighted to learn about your interest in SNRE and the Behavior, Education, and Communication field of study and hope that you will soon be joining us in Ann Arbor. 

I only recently became dean at SNRE (January 1st), so not long ago was also deciding whether SNRE was the right place for me.  My decision was profoundly influenced by the intellectual energy and excitement that our students bring to the Dana Building – and by our world class faculty who are singularly committed to excellence in teaching and research. 

SNRE is a place of diverse opinions and disciplines, where the landscape architect and the ecologist work alongside the environmental engineer and the community activist.  Flexibility and interdisciplinarity are part of the SNRE ethos.  At the same time, we have the whimsy to call ourselves SNREds and to celebrate the Solstice with our own faculty band, the Eco-Tones, and our own student a cappela group, Noise Pollution.

At SNRE, you will have access to the resources of one of the nation’s premier research institutions and its global 500,000-member alumni network. The Ann Arbor campus has long been at the vanguard of societal change, from the establishment of the Peace Corps here by President Kennedy in 1960, to the 1970 Earth Day “teach-ins” that drew national attention, to the present-day commitment to sustainability at all levels of the university. From President Mary Sue Coleman, to Athletics Director Dave Brandon, to Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, Ora Pescovitz, at Michigan, we are all engaged in questions of sustainability.  Across the university, and especially at SNRE, you will find that we walk the walk and live our environmental values every day. 

Come see what the University of Michigan has to offer by registering for and attending SNRE’s Admitted Student Visit Day ( on March 23rd.  This will also give you the opportunity to experience the eclectic wonder of Ann Arbor, with its culture, nightlife, great restaurants, and natural beauty. And if that’s not enough to pique your interest, I will personally be giving lessons on Visit Day on how to use your hand as an anatomical prop for the geography of our mitten-shaped state.

At SNRE, our curriculum is field-based, team-oriented, and applied, which is the perfect preparation for an environmental career.  Perhaps most importantly, we are all committed to doing nothing less than changing the world, and we want you in that adventure with us.

I hope to see you on the 23rd.



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