Monica Smith’19, a biochemistry major and environmental studies minor from Mount Carroll, Ill., started interning at Brownfield Environmental Engineering Resources in January of 2018.
The company monitors, assesses, and safely disposes of environmental hazards at construction and building sites in and around Beloit.
She discovered the opportunity in an unexpected place: her grandfather’s funeral.
While marking this loss among family and friends, she met Brad Brown, Brownfield’s principal, and discovered they are distantly related by marriage. After studying abroad for a semester in fall 2017, she called him. “He said he would love to help me get some experience in a real working environment,” Smith says. “The silver lining was that day for sure. You’ll never know what will happen!”
She started working at a desk, finalizing reports that tested water and soil quality. Now working full-time after graduating last May, Monica is doing much of the testing herself. “The nice thing now is that I can really do the whole report myself, so I can start from planning to collection to compiling and finishing the report,” she says, adding that she feels comfortable and confident in the field. “Being able to watch a project from start to finish is a cool concept.”
Smith hopes to pursue a career in environmental toxicology—the study of pollutants with their effects on the environment, a field closely linked with the study of the climate and how humans have affected it.
“Climate change is one of the things that really drew me to environmental studies in the first place, especially with taking Chemistry 117 and a course called “Climate Change,” Smith says. “It definitely relates to what I’m doing now and what I’d like to do in the future.”