Finding Her Passion: Dominique Agnew
Florida is always hot.
Dominique knows that that doesn’t make global warming any less real.
When it comes to climate change in the United States, Florida is often the first state that is brought into the conversation. Its vast coastlines, high population densities and warm, year-round temperatures make the sunshine state extremely vulnerable to the effects of global warming. Cornell student Dominique Agnew calls Florida home, yet looking back on her time spent there she finds it interesting that it isn’t a bigger issue for more people.
“In Florida, the winters are warm and the summers are even warmer. When you talk to the typical Floridian about the impact of climate change, they probably wouldn’t be able to point anything out to you because it’s just always hot.”
The issue hasn’t been lost on Dominique. She recalls really becoming cognizant of climate change in high school and began noticing the issue in a more urgent light.
“When I started taking environmental classes in high school and realized that climate change was a real and immediate problem, I began to notice the changes in my environment over time. For example, I began to notice how often dangerous hurricanes seemed to be hitting the coast. Through that exposure, I was able to really see first hand that even though Florida is ‘always hot’, it can get to a point where it shouldn’t be the way that it is.”
Her experiences with hurricanes also made her realize that climate change hits people and countries differently depending on their economic situations, a realization that only propelled her passion.
“Hurricane Matthew hit my town pretty bad, and luckily I live in a well-off middle-class neighborhood, so the people affected were able to get back on their feet fairly quickly. It made me think about the people that are not as fortunate as those in my community and how even though our human-made systems tend to discriminate, nature does not. It can go after anyone at any time. When I had this revelation, I became very passionate about climate work and the role I wanted to take in mitigating it.”
Dominique took that passion and this summer she joined Global Warming Mitigation Project’s (GWMP) constellations program. The program, which launched this summer, connects students with virtual, remote positions at important organizations that fight global warming. Dominique secured not only one internship but is fulfilling positions this summer with both Climate Justice Now and EOPA.
For Climate Justice Now, she is a blogging intern posting blogs twice a week about topics she was already passionate about but wanted to take a deeper dive into and learn more about. At EOPA, she works as a national campaign intern for the data and research team as well as the fundraising team. One of the things that stuck with Dominique is how passionate and welcoming the industry can be. The people she worked with have made the difference in her internships and something she describes as a highlight.
“The highlight of my internship is the different people I have met and the inspiration I have had throughout my time working for these two great organizations. Climate Justice Now is run by an amazing woman that believes in me and inspires me every day that there are people out there that not only say that they care about the people and the planet, but they actively show it as well. With the EOPA, I was able to connect with the other passionate interns and learn more about how diverse the sustainability field is. There isn’t one person out there that isn’t welcome in the fight against climate change.”
An advantage of the GWMP Constellations Program is that it allows the participants to make connections and collaborate with interns outside of their organization.
“Through the Climate Constellations program, I have heard so many stories of people getting involved in sustainability that never thought they were initially interested in that field. The more people that are aware of climate change and are willing to contribute their time and talents to the cause is great, and that is exactly what this program does. Not only are we working for companies that have great missions and inspiring teams, but we also are exposed to different types of fields in the sustainability realm.”
Although the summer is ending and Dominique is returning to classwork at Cornell, she is taking her experiences and urging others about the importance of action on global warming and climate change.
“I have to say that investing in climate change solutions is one of the most sustainable and impactful ways a person can spend their money. Although it is difficult to see from the outside, climate change is more than just a problem with nature. It is interconnected with many different social problems that negatively impact people’s lives every day. These include racism, homelessness and public health. Investing in the battle against climate change is an investment in our future on all accounts.”