Surfing above the Arctic Circle in Norway

Steve Guardi says studying abroad was the highlight of his time at the University of Washington Bothell. The Environmental Studies major traveled to Costa Rica, New Zealand and Norway to broaden his education with ecological knowledge from across the globe.

Steve Guardi

In Norway, Guardi studied the indigenous Sami people of the Arctic. Sharing his experience as a blogger for the U.S. Department of State’s Gilman Scholarship program, he described meeting with activists and attending cultural performances and music and art festivals. He also wrote about fishing with local residents and surfing above the Arctic Circle.

On other trips, Guardi studied biodiversity in Costa Rica and learned about indigenous connections to the land in New Zealand. For making the most of his UW experience, Guardi is recognized as one of the University of Washington’s 2019 Husky 100.

Varied experiences

Back at UW Bothell, Guardi blended courses in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences with volunteer opportunities in organic and aquaponic gardening, with assistance from the Office of Community Based Learning and Research.

“The Environmental Studies program in particular provided me with the perfect combination of required courses as well as opportunities to shape my education in ways that I found most valuable,” said Guardi, who graduated at the end of fall quarter 2018.

With a degree emphasis in Conservation and Natural Resource Management, Guardi now works for a governmental agency conducting ecological field work and volunteer management. “Since I like being outside and working with the land, I’m really enjoying it.”

Guardi grew up in northern Illinois where he received an associate degree. He also volunteered three years with AmeriCorps and served in Los Angeles and Seattle before he decided to seek a bachelor’s degree.

“I was nervous to return to school. My goal was to learn as much as possible about conservation and environmental science and studying abroad,” Guardi said. “Everything turned out better than expected.”

Supportive campus

Nearly all of Guardi’s course work was centered around the natural world and how humans can develop a harmonious relationship.

“If you were to look at my transcript, you might think, ‘How did he take all of these seemingly random classes while still earning a degree?’ My answer is pretty simple: I wanted to, so I found ways to make what I wanted a reality.”

By applying for scholarships, working and saving money, Guardi paid for college without taking out loans, even while taking advantage of study abroad adventures.

His advisers also helped.

“They always blew me away by how helpful and student focused they are — whether it was helping me figure out how to fill out petition forms for coursework, recommending study abroad and scholarship opportunities or answering any question.”

“By immersing myself in activities that I find truly interesting,” he said, “I have been able to discover what I can do as an individual to contribute to our local and global communities — while enjoying myself along the way.”

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