Thanks to the generous donation of Jean Whittemore Sharp (BA, ’44), twenty-one SNRE students from various specializations were selected to participate in the San Francisco Career Trek. From October 17-18, these students had the opportunity to meet with over 45 Bay Area alumni and professionals that offered their time for roundtable discussions, moderated panels, personal meetings, as well as a networking reception.
Students spoke with alumni across a wide-range of careers in federal government, business, energy, land-use and planning, health, philanthropy and many more. A full line-up of the alumni and companies that participated can be found here.
Many alumni offered specific advice to students in order to make the most of their time at SNRE. Maggie Wenger, MS ’12, told students to enroll in NRE 533 Negotiating Skills in Environmental Dispute Resolution taught by professors Steve Yaffee and Julia Wondolleck. Other alumni echoed Wenger's recommendation and the importance of negotiations in their daily work. Reflecting back on his time at SNRE, Matthew Zinn, MS ‘99/JD ’99, told students he wished he would have completed a Master’s project and emphasized the importance of having client based, real world experience to bring to an employer.
Conservation Ecology student, Priscila Papias weighed in on her career trek experience: “Being able to meet with the different agencies that participated in the trek, I was granted the opportunity to engage in informational interviews and learn about the agency’s mission, culture, employment opportunities, and possibilities for professional growth.”
A native Californian, Papias was most interested in meeting with Bay Area alumni in order to receive career advice and opportunities that have been key to their success within their current professions. She hopes to return to her home state after graduation and is grateful that the trek allowed her to establish relationships with potential employers.
International student Chun Yin Chang from Hong Kong thought the experience was a great platform for him to exchange ideas, advice, and work experience with alumni in order to spark new thoughts and foster beneficial networking.
“The career trek in San Francisco was a golden opportunity to meet with SNRE alumni and experts in the field,” said Chang.
Currently focusing on the environmental policy and planning field of study, Chang felt that the multi-career platform allowed him to better map his career plan.
Generations of impact
Sharp, 93, was pleased to hear that her contribution, which funded each student’s roundtrip airfare, went a long way in supporting a school so dear to her heart.
“I wanted to give back to SNRE what it gave to my family,” she said.
Sharp’s generous gift is the “cherry on top” of her family’s undeniable contribution to the field of landscape architecture, the University of Michigan, and laying the foundation for the state of Michigan’s cities and parks.
With three generations of landscape architects and five generations of U-M alumni in her family, Sharp’s connection to SNRE runs deep.
Her father, Harlow O. Whittemore (1889-1986), a nationally recognized leader in landscape architecture and community planning, served as a professor and chairman of the Department of Landscape Architecture and City Planning at U-M until his retirement in 1958.
After receiving his Master’s degree in Landscape Design from U-M in 1914, Harlow joined the landscape architecture faculty the same year. Whittemore also served as the Director of the Nichols Arboretum and is known for developing the Huron-Clinton Metroparks system from Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie in 1936. The Harlow O. Whittemore Lecture was established in his honor.
An alumna of UM’s College of Literature, Science and the Art (LSA), Sharp was impressed by the accomplishments of the very school in which her father devoted his career.
Sharp was happy that her donation created an opportunity for students to explore careers in California and connect with alumni. The third in line of six children, each of her siblings were Westbound, but Sharp’s deep love of her Michigan roots kept her close.
Thank you to Mrs. Jean Whittemore Sharp and to the Bay Area alumni for your generosity and commitment to the past, present, and future of SNRE! These opportunities would not be possible without your financial support, talent, and time.