Students

Students in the CCS Masters program come from a variety of backgrounds and investigate the interface between climate change and society at different scales and in different forms. Half of them are full-time students and the other half are part-time.

Certificate Program students include recent graduates of Bachelor’s programs and a number of mid-career individuals from industry leaders such as the Weather Channel.


In their own words


Lacey Brown

Environmental stewardship has always been a passion of mine, but only after completing my Bachelor’s of Communication in 2018 did I start to consider how that passion could be applied to my career. I wanted to find a way to combine my social science training and love for the arts with climate change awareness and response. This is when I came across the Climate Change and Society program. I was immediately drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of the program and the ability to shape it to my interests and goals. Currently I live in Wilmington, North Carolina and have joined the Leadership Team of Clean Cape Fear to help stop the release of dangerous PFAS into the Cape Fear River. I’m already utilizing the skills I learned in the Climate Adaptation Certificate Program and now the full CCS Masters program. Ultimately, I plan to focus my studies on a combination of environmental policy and climate change communication.


Alyssa Crouson

I strongly believe in the Seussian insight that nothing will ever change unless someone cares
enough to do something about it. The cause that I feel most passionate about is environmental
conservation and justice, I want a profession created to protect and empower the earth and the
people on it. Sustainability and being a vessel for change is what gives me purpose. The Climate
Change and Society program made the most sense for me and my career plans. I have been
striving to fulfill my purpose of environmental stewardship, and by joining this program I am
able to expand my knowledge and learn valuable skills for future jobs in sustainable project
management. I completed my bachelors in English and political science with a minor in
environmental science at NC State. Since doing so, I have committed my time to learning all
that I can so that I can educate and prepare businesses and individuals on climate change and
all the pressing externalities.


Kirsten Gard

I have had an interest in advocating for the natural world for as long as I can remember; I recently found a piece of art from early elementary school that stated I wanted to “end global warming” when I grew up. When I got to college at Southern Illinois University, I pursued this passion by majoring in Geography and Environmental Resources. I had concentrations in Environmental Sustainability as well as Climate and Water Resources, and a minor in Environmental Studies. After graduating, I moved from Illinois to North Carolina to work on a remediation project involving PFAS in the Cape Fear River and local groundwater supply. I always knew I wanted to continue my education, and I am thrilled to be a part of the Climate Change and Society program here at NC State. I am looking forward to deepening my understanding on this complex and multifaceted topic, and am hoping to use the knowledge I obtain from this program to contribute to a more sustainable future. 


Kiele Goins

I graduated from UNC-Asheville with a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Studies, where I
learned the connections between earth’s systems and developed a love of geologic science. I
wanted a field where science and human interests intersected. Geology fascinated me because,
although all environmental science overlaps with human society, geology intersects human
interests in often strange unexpected ways. My undergraduate studies led me to want to
understand more about the many complex systems that allow the planet to function. I pursued
a Master’s degree at University of South Carolina where I studied how carbon is stored within
deep soil. The overlap between soil and people resulted in an interest in climate change. I want
to further soil’s role in people’s lives, particularly as a part of a climate change solution.
However, my understanding of climate science needed to be more in depth, which is why I am pursuing a second masters at NCSU. I look forward to all the opportunities to marry all my interests and launch a career with both science and society at the forefront.


Hayden Hill

I have always been someone who is passionate about helping people and the environment. As an undergraduate at Appalachian State University, I quickly found that I could turn these passions into a career in environmental sciences. After graduating with a BS in Sustainable Development, with concentrations in environmental studies and human ecology, I knew that my time in school wasn’t over yet. An introductory course in climate change science that I was a part of at App sparked my interest in continuing to study at NC State, and here I am! I am so excited about this chapter of my life, and I am looking forward to utilizing my newfound knowledge and skills in climate change communications to better our planet.


Rehana Hassan

I am a resident of Balochistan, the largest province in Pakistan. I have earned both graduate degrees in Environmental science. Currently I am enrolled in the Climate Change and Society program. It is a privilege for me to have been selected from Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University Quetta for a project called “Developing the generation of female environmentalists.” When considering my interests I have always found comfort in the landscapes of my region, which range from mountains to vast deserts and long coastal areas. However beneath this beauty lie climate challenges such as unpredictable monsoons, prolonged droughts and encroaching desertification caused by climate change. These challenges directly impact the safety and livelihoods of communities which drives my determination to address them. My journey in this field is dedicated to understanding and tackling these climate issues by seeking solutions. My ultimate goal is to protect Balochistan’s environment and improve the lives of its residents.


Addie Jackson

I have spent my voice focusing on democratizing access to science and aiding in the facilitation of climate action and aiding in the generalized education on science. Whether it was summers I spent at camp providing experiential learning opportunities to children to reduce fear and develop a desire to learn about the environment or the hands on climate activism I’ve done with the Fridays for Future campaign, utilizing the ways in which talking about and promoting the needs of climate action have been such a joy for me. This led to my academic pursuits of Environmental Studies and Strategic Communications at High Point University for my undergraduate degree as well as my admittance into this program. I hope to build my understanding of communicating the issues of climate change and accomplish research as to what role the narratives we promote and tell ourselves about climate change have to play in solving the climate crisis.


Lily Johnson

I have always had a deep respect for the ocean and the environment. I grew up spending most summers and holidays with my family at our cottage on a tiny island in the Outer Banks of NC, which instilled in me a respect and passion for the ocean and all it provides from an early age. My grandparents, who lived on the island, taught me how important it is to utilize and preserve the natural resources that the earth and the ocean provide for us. I have always carried that knowledge with me and made every effort to pass it on, especially in my academic career. I graduated in May 2022 with my Bachelor’s in English and Political Science and a certificate in Business and Technical Communication from East Carolina University. During my undergraduate and beginning graduate career, I took part in a field study in the Outer Banks of NC gauging local education and opinions on climate change and I also studied abroad on the northern coast of Ireland studying sustainable farming and renewable energy sources. These experiences helped me to better understand the climate, social, and political issues we are facing today. After graduating, I took some time off from studying and moved up to Martha’s Vineyard to work as a bus driver for the Vineyard Transit Authority. Living on an island so close to the ocean and surrounded by such immense scenery has really solidified how much I want to do everything I can to protect our climate and natural resources, and I know that studying in the CCS program is a step in the right direction. I am excited to deepen my knowledge and understanding of our climate and natural resources so that I am better prepared to advocate for it in the future.


Mark Massing

Dr. Massing received his BS in computer science at Florida Atlantic University and then earned an MS in Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill, an MD from Duke University and PhD in epidemiology at UNC-CH. He joined the program to learn more about climate change and its implications for the health sector.


Sarah McCollum

There is an urgent need for us to help the general public understand the worth of our natural environment outside of commodities. Like other students, I grew up in awe of the nature around me that many overlooked and throughout my undergraduate career it was clear we cannot only communicate with science. I received my Bachelors in Environmental Science from the University of Lynchburg with a minor in Sustainability Studies. With the longing to make a difference, I began taking business, economic, law, and graphic design courses to help translate what I have learned to non-scientists of the world. I knew there was more to learn outside of my small college which is why the interdisciplinary CCS Masters program excites me. I look forward to taking more serious steps in climate-related issues I am passionate about. This summer I presented my independent thesis research on the socioeconomic benefits of the carbon market at the AESS Conference (Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences) in Portland, OR. I am a part of 3 national sustainability groups and I look forward to collaborating further with this talented group of CCS students.


Uzma Miraj

I am from the Northern Areas of Pakistan. I pursued my Bachelor’s degree in Environmental
Sciences from Fatima Jinnah Women University Rawalpindi, Pakistan. My dedication to
environmental studies and my passion for the natural world began during my childhood.
Growing up, I observed various changes in the environment around me, such as glacier retreat,
fluctuations in crop production, soil erosion, and variations in river water levels. These
observations fueled my curiosity and desire to understand the complexities of climate and
associated environmental changes. Currently, I am enrolled in an incredible opportunity, a fully-
funded scholarship to pursue my MS in Climate Change and Society at North Carolina State
University. I am thrilled about this opportunity to study aspects of climate and environmental
changes at a renowned institution like North Carolina State University.


Emily Ogburn

I received my undergraduate degrees in Ecological Science and English from University of Kentucky and
my master’s in Ecology from State University of New York—Environmental Science and Forestry in
Syracuse, New York. I have spent my career conducting scientific research in the fields of wildlife ecology
and agricultural entomology. I joined the CCS program to learn more about climate change science and
communication because I believe climate change is the greatest scientific issue of our time. As we move
forward on climate change policy, it is crucial that social and environmental justice is an integral part of
the process. I am excited to learn more about climate change science, communications, and policy and
the important connections among all three.


Hunter Reed

My fascination with the natural world has been a quiet influence for the majority of my life while growing up in Charlotte, NC, so I chose to pursue an undergraduate degree in geosciences to better understand anthropogenic climate change. After receiving such a science-driven education, I was in search of a graduate program that provided more balance between the societal implications and mitigation avenues with the the most up-to-date climate science, and the Climate Change & Society program has met that need. As a military spouse, I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to several states and countries during my undergraduate studies that all exhibit the impacts of a changing climate. It is my hope to work as an intermediary between the scientific realm and the public to strike realistic solutions for the current climate crisis.


Alexandra Steele

Alexandra Steele has more than 20 years’ experience as an on-air meteorologist. She has worked both nationally and in local television markets forecasting the weather. She spent over ten years as an evening anchor on The Weather Channel as well as an on-air meteorologist at CNN. She also spent years in Atlanta, Georgia (WANF), in Washington, DC (WJLA) and in Hartford-New Haven (WTNH) markets. Alexandra is a member of the American Meteorological Society and has earned the Television Seal of Approval. She is also an Emmy-nominated meteorologist. Alexandra graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts and Science and has a Masters Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She completed her Meteorology Degree in Connecticut concurrent to working at WJLA-TV. Prior to her on-air television work, she worked in both London and New York City for ABC News. Alexandra is married and has a daughter and is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Climatology.


Kenyon Taylor

North Carolina has a plethora of amazing natural elements such as our mountains and seas and everything in between! Growing up here, I didn’t realize just how special our natural surroundings truly are and how important they are to every other aspect of our lives. I recently graduated from the University of North Carolina at Asheville with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Management and Policy. By choosing that program, I was able to learn about the environment from its natural side and from the political and economic viewpoint. I am so excited to continue my education and join the Climate Change and Society program here at NC State University to better understand climatological features and the impact humans are having on them. I hope to leave this program with the knowledge to make a difference and protect our environment.


Meharwar Uppal

As an environmentalist, I was always interested in having a scientific understanding of all the climatic
events, how they are interrelated, and how we can find a logical solution within the given resource. In
my undergraduate studies, I opted for environmental science to perfectly land for climate change
studies and pursue it as a profession. Coming from Pakistan, which is the eighth country worst affected
by climate change, I did my undergraduate research work on heat waves. I’ve worked with many
organizations including WWF Pakistan, PDMA Punjab, Resilient Future International, and Pak Green
Enviro Engineering Pvt. Ltd. To polish my skills, I found the Climate Change and Society program a
perfect match for my dreams and aspirations. I was so fortunate to be selected for a fully funded
master’s degree under the project, “Developing the Next Generation of Female Environmentalists.” I
have also been Vice Chairman Pak Youth Society and Secretary Society for Environmental Actions (SEA),
LCWU back in my country. Now I’m aiming to learn more about these extreme climatic events, and their
compound effects for instance, of heat waves, and how I can effectively play my role in bridging the gap
between climate change literacy and the broader public.


Shonni Wiggins
My fascination with climate change began in middle school while attending math and science camp at the School of Math Science in Durham, NC.  Also, living in eastern North Carolina I have experienced how hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding can be devastating.  I have seen how these weather events have worsened over the years and their impact on vulnerable communities in my area.  I have a B.S in Environmental Studies from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.  While attending NCAT my advisor encouraged me to learn more about the Climate Change and Society Program at NC State to further my interest in climate change.  I enrolled in the Climate Change and Society program because I want to learn more about the science behind the changes in our climate.  Upon receiving my degree, I would like to apply it to a career working with at-risk communities affected by climate change.


Collin Yates

I’m a graduate student in the Climate Change and Society program at N.C. State University, where I previously earned my Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences from the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources. Passionate about bridging policy and data analysis, I apply my skills to projects at the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, focusing on water resources and climate change. My interest is deeply rooted in the integration of scientific knowledge with practical applications. Through the CCS program, I aim to deepen my understanding of climate change’s societal impact and collaborate with peers and professionals to drive effective and actionable solutions.