A new journey on the Niobrara National Scenic River

A desire to make a difference, a love for the outdoors and little help from her mentors helped Kate Danziger ’23 find her dream job.

Kate Danziger stands in waterPhoto/Dan Holmes

Kate Danziger '23 poses in her element in the Charles River.

A desire to make a difference, a love for the outdoors and little help from her mentors helped Kate Danziger ’23 find her first job after graduating from Brandeis — working for the National Park Service at the Niobrara National Scenic River in Valentine, Nebraska. She’ll be working as a biological science technician, collecting water quality samples, surveying endangered species, and assisting with other research monitoring throughout the river’s system. 

When she first arrived at Brandeis, Danziger chose to major in environmental studies because of her distress around climate change, but she also felt overwhelmed and unsure of how to make her own impact.

“I felt like I couldn’t just sit there and do nothing,” said Danziger. “The best way to get over the anxiety for me was to get involved.”

Danziger dedicated her time to learning as much as she could, taking as many environmental studies courses as she could, working as a teacher’s assistant, and applying to internships outside of the classroom. After taking Ecology and Conservation Biology with professor Colleen Hitchcock, Danziger decided to pursue an internship in field work.

She spent the summer of her junior year participating in a World of Work Fellowship at EarthWise Aware, a conservation-based nonprofit organization in Somerville, Massachusetts. It was here that she realized she could find a career that brought her outdoors. She spent the summer studying phenology, the annual cycles of plants and animals, and entomology, the study of insects.

“I have always loved being outdoors,” said Danziger. “I grew up spending a lot of time in nature, running, biking, hiking, and taking pictures. I knew this was what I wanted to do after I learned how much time I could spend outdoors.”

Danziger continued to work at EarthWise Aware throughout her senior year, analyzing the impact of climate change on the phenology of oaks and the arthropod (insect) communities living inside of them. Under the mentorship of Hitchcock and Claire O’Neill, president of EarthWise Aware, she was able to apply her field work to her senior thesis project.

As Commencement approached, Danziger found herself going back and forth with the choices for her future. With some help from professor Hitchcock, she was able to narrow down her choices. “Professor Hitchcock sent me job postings whenever she saw roles that seemed like a good fit,” she said. “She was super helpful in guiding me through it all.”

After applying to more than 45 positions, she found her unique role in Valentine, Nebraska. She’ll begin her position as a biological science technician this summer. With the field work experience from her internship and skills learned within her Brandeis courses, she’s confident in her ability to take on this role.

“It was so cool to see that I was really wanted somewhere,” said Danziger. “[The hiring manager] offered me the job on the spot, so I called professor Hitchcock to get her opinion on it. I knew in my gut that it would be the right fit for me.”

With her experiences at Brandeis enabling her to find her first job, Danziger is ready to grow her skills. “I’m excited and ready to learn new things,” she said. “My advice to environmental studies majors at Brandeis is to take as many classes on different topics and in different areas as you can while you're here. Experiment. If you really go for it you can find where your passion is.”

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