Cait Witkowski, Class of 2011
Global Studies and Environmental Science Major, Business Administration Minor
What did you do after Bryant?
After I finished my BS at Bryant in Global Studies and Environmental Science with a Business Administration minor, I went to China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, China. There, I taught oral English to environmental engineering students, conducted modern degradation studies for paleoclimate research, and took courses towards my Masters in Global Environmental Studies. Not only did Global Studies prepare me with the language (I took my graduate level science courses in Chinese) and with the culture (though I do intimately understand the phrase "culture shock"), GS also helped me learn how to learn.
After one year in China, I spent another two at Bryant where I managed the Laboratory for Terrestrial Environments and taught several lab sections. Once finished with my Masters, I hit the road in an old 1993 Winnebago, making my way across the US while writing science content for online textbooks. I did this for a year before receiving several interviews in Europe for PhD positions, one of which I took and am current pursuing in The Netherlands. Although my endeavors after Bryant were ultimately science-based, my Global Studies experience is what made my transition to new countries frictionless.
What are you doing now?
For the past two years (and for the next two years), I have conducted biogeochemical research at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ). I'm developing and validating a novel way to determine past carbon dioxide because understanding the past is key to projecting the future. Once I've developed enough research for a thesis, I will defend my work at Utrecht University to earn my PhD.
With conferences and fieldwork (and not to mention the close proximity of countries in Europe), I have taken the ample opportunities to explore new places. I have gotten so much more out of these experiences thanks to what I've learned in Global Studies. People appreciate that I understand some history, politics, business, and customs of their home countries. It really makes a difference. Really. More importantly, Global Studies has shown me how to ask the right questions, how to learn about a new culture, how to engage with someone who might have a completely different worldview from my own.
What are your goals for your career?
Who knows what will interest me in the future? I'll likely be a different person in five years time. The great thing about living an international lifestyle is that you're constantly changing and growing... and in ways that you would never expect. That said, I have always loved critical thinking and a good, engaging "what if?", so I imagine that will be the thread among my career choices. My current career stepping stone most certainly gives me that intellectual stimulation I crave.
Do you have any advice for Global Studies students?
My advice for Global Studies students is to travel. It doesn't matter why or where. Just travel. I don't mean that you should go to a tourist destination and snap some generic stock photos. Go somewhere completely out of your comfort zone and try to live through the lens of a local. You have the tools to do it.