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Student influenced by Jane Goodall to study environmental health

January 25, 2010

When Jessica Lucero arrived at Colorado State University in 2006, her plan was to major in political science and Spanish/Latin studies. She had attended the National Hispanic Institute at CSU while in high school, and had her interest piqued by the leadership and political emphasis of the program.

Jessica Lucero, a senior majoring in environmental health, is interested in medicine and industrial hygiene.

"Something clicked"

Then, during her second semester at CSU, she saw Jane Goodall speak at Moby Arena.

“Something clicked,” said Lucero. “She was talking about people, health, the environment, and right after that I made an appointment at the Center for Advising and Student Achievement. Before long I was in Erin Reichert’s (EH undergraduate adviser) office and knew that this is where I was meant to be.”

President of EH student group

Lucero grew up in Pueblo where she attended South High School. She fell in love with CSU after attending the National Hispanic Institute and, though she had her early sights set on a medical profession, enjoyed the leadership emphasis of the institute.

Lucero's mother had always worked in medical facilities and she grew up with the constant presence of hospitals and doctors’ offices. These experiences led her down a path where she knew she wanted to help people. Now president of the Environmental Health Student Association, she still is determining where that path will take her.

“At this point I haven’t decided which direction I will go, but I’m getting ready to apply to PA (physician assistant) schools as well as the master’s program in environmental health,” said Lucero. “I have a soft spot for industrial hygiene, but also an interest in being a physician assistant in an emergency room setting. I’m applying to both kinds of programs to keep my options open, but will have to make a decision soon.”

Looking forward to internship

Lucero is hoping that the environmental health’s mandatory internship program will help clear her career sights. Meanwhile, she is keeping busy attending to EHSA business where she is promoting volunteer activities including CSUnity and RamRide (a volunteer service that provides safe rides home), and developing fundraising programs for the Environmental Health Scholarship.

Lucero works at CASA, where she started in the advising office but now is on the student staff in the Intra-University computer labs. She also is a volunteer with the Northern Colorado AIDS Project where she helps out at the front desk and with special events.

Faculty members really care about students

“Everything I’ve done has helped direct me in my decisions, including seeing Jane Goodall and coming to the environmental health program,” Lucero said. “It’s like a family here. I really enjoy my classes for my major, especially epidemiology, water quality, industrial hygiene, and waste management.

"Dr. (David) Gilkey has been a great resource and mentor as has Dr. (Ken) Blehm, who teaches you with tough love, and I appreciate that. The really great thing about our Department is how each of our faculty members really cares and is concerned about each student. They want to see us succeed and make decisions that will lead us to productive and happy lives.”

Originally published in the Winter 2010 Department of Environmental & Radiological Health Sciences Emitter newsletter.