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An Experiential Learning Trifecta: Edwin Kinsey '18

Edwin hiking the Kepler Track in Fiordland National Park, Southland, New Zealand, April 2017. Photograph taken by John Burdette.

During Edwin Kinsey's '18 academic career at Virginia Wesleyan, he completed the experiential learning trifecta: a semester abroad, undergraduate research, and an internship. As an Earth and Environmental Sciences major, each experience helped to inform his interest in sustainable practices and solidify his career path. 

"Studying abroad in Dunedin, New Zealand for a semester and having the chance to conduct ecological research has proven to be one of my more pivotal and beneficial opportunities for experiential learning."

Upon returning from New Zealand, Edwin completed an undergraduate research project on the green roofs of the Greer Environmental Sciences Center.

"Having the chance to conduct independent research as an undergraduate made me more inquisitive about sustainable design and the potential for continuing my education in a related field."

Both experiences served as the building blocks for his internship, which focused on sustainability.

"As a sustainability intern with Hourigan Group, I had the opportunity to develop an appreciation and greater understanding for the built environment and sustainable rating programs and initiatives such as Stormwater Pollution Prevention Planning. Ultimately, the internship gave me the knowledge to transition to full time employment as an Environmental Analyst after graduation and now as a Health, Safety and Environmental Specialist."

As Edwin reflects on the experiences, he realizes the transformation that took place, both professionally and personally.

"Studying abroad in New Zealand had the greatest personal impact on my life. Having the opportunity to challenge myself in a way I hadn't been challenged before and experiencing a country with such rich and unique culture, welcoming people, and pristine landscapes gave me a new degree of confidence upon my return home. I am connected with a variety of accomplished colleagues and alumni around the globe. My professional network has expanded significantly. Additionally, having the ability to draw from unique experiences during my semester in New Zealand has given me a holistic and well-rounded perspective that's lended well to professional environments composed of a variety of environmental professionals."

Edwin notes that like many others who had study away experiences, he still keeps up regularly with friends and roommates he had while living in New Zealand. In fact, he lives with one of them today!

"I will always be grateful for the path that my study abroad experience has placed me on. I truly can't imagine what my life might look like had I not had that experience."

He has a message for current students.

"Explore all of your options for experiential learning and try to participate in as much as you can. Every opportunity you have to learn and take away something that will differentiate yourself from others will prove vital as you transition away from VWU."