Passion to act: Micaela Edelson ’17 gives voice to environmental issues

(Editors Note: This article on Micaela Edelson '17 was originally featured on the homepage of the Gettysburg College website. Micaela was the president of Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership society supported at Gettysburg College by the Garthwait Leadership Center.)

A week before the U.S. Army Corps denied an easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline in southern North Dakota, Micaela Edelson ’17 used the issue as an example of why she wants to enter a career in environmental justice. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe argued that the oil pipeline would dishonor its spiritual land and contaminate its water source, and after months of protests, the pipeline will now be rerouted.

“Political capacity is important—without people advocating on behalf of an issue, it simply isn’t heard,” Edelson said.  The Dakota Access oil pipeline is, on the other hand, an example of how a group of people who are passionate about an issue—and speak up—can change the course of events.

Edelson plans to devote her career to advocating for environmental justice for those who cannot or may not have the capacity to speak up. As an environmental studies  and public policy double major, with minors in political science and peace and justice studies, she has spent her time at Gettysburg learning more about environmental issues and completing internships that have allowed her to pursue policy research. In her junior year, she was awarded a prestigious $50,000 Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowship from The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct research on the potential risks faced by agricultural migrant workers exposed to pesticides—a project she is completing this year as her senior honors thesis project.   

“I’ve been interested in social justice and environmental studies for a while,” said Edelson, “so [environmental justice] is a connection that just makes sense.” 

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