Host Hannah Aoyagi '01


Hannah Aoyagi '01
Major: Special Interdisciplinary Major in Environmental Policy
Job Title:
Operations Manager
WA Department of Ecology
Host Date: Tuesday, January 9, 2018 and Thursday, January 11, 2018*
Time: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Location: Lacey, WA

*Hannah will be hosting two separate groups of students on two days

What student groups/clubs/activities were you involved in when you were a student at Puget Sound?

  • Club water polo
  • Student Environmental Education Coordinators
  • Honors Program

How would you describe your role and organization?

Department of Ecology is our state's environmental protection agency. We work on a wide range of issues, including air quality, water quality, water resources, ecological monitoring, hazardous waste, and even nuclear waste. I'm in the Toxics Cleanup Program, which cleans up contaminated sites all around the state.

I'm the Operations Planner for our program, which means I get to know a little bit about everything we do. I organize leadership and professional development for our staff. I also work on a lot of projects designed to make us more efficient and effective in our work.

How would the skills and competencies gained through a liberal arts education be beneficial in the type of work you do?

A liberal arts education gives you three crucial skills for any workplace: communication, leadership, and interdisciplinary thinking. These are critical in government and in environmental fields.

Working in state government, you are accountable to the public, stakeholders, and the legislature, so you need to be able to tell the story of why your work is important and what you're accomplishing. With environmental work, you will also be expected to link science to policy, and translate it for the public.

No matter where you go in life, leadership skills will ensure your success. Although I didn't receive my first formal leadership training until a few years ago, I found that Puget Sound had prepared me well. I had great opportunities to lead, and supportive faculty to advise me along the way.

What can a student expect to experience by job shadowing you?

I can tailor the experience to the student's interests by setting up time with a wide variety of staff at our agency. For example, those interested in field research could talk with our Environmental Assessment Program. We also have policy-makers, planners, environmental educators, engineers, and geologists.

A possible mini-project could be to interview a couple of staff for a profile in one of our program or agency publications.

A building tour gives a great sense for what it's like to work here--posters and photos of our work, the garden where we grow food to donate, and the fun art throughout the building.