Sarah Douglass

 JCU Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science graduate standing with UN flagGrowing up in such a beautiful part of the world — right in the middle of two World Heritage areas, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Wet Tropics, meant that I have always had a passion for the environment. Studying Environmental Earth Science was a natural fit.

I decided to study a double degree majoring in Politics and International Relations, and Environmental Earth Science as I believe that the most complex environmental issues of our time require international coordination to generate solutions. I highly recommend studying a double degree. It gives you the opportunity to study a more diverse range of subjects and can expose you to often segregated world views; for me it brought together the political and the scientific realms.

JCU is a leading environmental science research institution, giving students access to world-class researchers in one of the most ecologically diverse locations in the world. At JCU, I could go to a university where we were able to practice and learn about environmental research techniques literally at our back door.  I was even able to conduct research about the effects of climate change from an island right in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef - it was amazing.

I am first in my family to go to university and this was one of my biggest challenges. I had a massive fear of the unknown. Even details like the enrolment process, or what a tutorial is, these were all things I had to figure out. But with the encouragement of my friends and family, and the JCU student support team, studying at JCU became one of the most exciting and empowering experiences of my life.

Now I’m in my dream job. I work for the Australian Government and lead the team responsible for the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Convention on Biological Diversity is an international legally-binding treaty with three main goals: conservation of biodiversity; sustainable use of biodiversity; and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. This Convention provides an important framework for Australia's environment and biodiversity management policies. Honestly, I didn’t even know this job existed! I was taking things as they came and ended up finding this job — it was like a puzzle piece that slotted perfectly into place.

JCU has been a fundamental building block to get me on my path. The combination of the professors and lecturers who taught me, the world-class facilities, and the inspiring location was essential to my success and enabled me to get where I am today.