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Jenna Calvi '09

On the Path to Environmental Law

Senior Jenna Calvi is an aspiring lawyer with eclectic passions. She’s majoring in natural resource management; she loves to white water canoe, and she hopes to one day hike to the base camp of K2. It's these diverse interests, combined with a deep concern for human rights and her innate ability to argue intelligently, that have given Jenna an ultimate goal: to become an environmental lawyer.

More than anything else, this Weymouth, Massachusetts resident is concerned about environmental justice—a cause that includes ensuring human rights to those who live in impoverished areas around the globe. She wants to help these diverse populations work together to create change.

“The biggest concern today is establishing general international environmental standards,” she says. “We need to get everyone on board—but the problem is, most people can’t get on board because they aren’t economically ready.”

And even if they were, in Jenna’s eyes, it would still be an uphill battle.

“There are so many environmental issues that are destroying our planet that need to be addressed, for human rights and otherwise,” she says. “And yet, so many people who are trying to help haven’t honed in on these specific issues.”

Jenna believes her work as a lawyer will demand that specificity and empower her with the ability to help others. “It’s scary to think that people live in conditions like this [places with contaminated drinking water] still,” she says. “We need international environmental equality now.”

As a part of her interest in international environmentalism, Jenna spent last semester in Queensland, Australia, where she lived in the rainforest and performed field-intensive studies on ecology, land management, and the socioeconomics of the area. She also studied the habits of rainforest bats and volunteered her time toward rainforest restoration projects.

Eventually, Jenna would like to become a lawyer for the Environmental Protection Agency, a goal she owes partly to the influence of those close to her. “People have always told me that I’m good at law, and you can’t really run away from what you’re good at,” she laughs. Jenna cites Prof. Rebecca Purdom as an individual who has helped her find her path. “She’s just so passionate about everything that has to do with environmental law,” Jenna says, “which has inspired me to be, too.”

Jenna is also the vice president of the pre-law club, a teacher’s assistant for the Introduction to Environmental Studies course, and a member of the Student Judicial Board—which overhears appeals to judiciary actions on campus. After taking a year off to travel and prepare for the LSATs, she plans on attending Vermont Law School to earn her Juris Doctorate and Masters in Environmental Law and Policy.

By Nicole Ainsworth '09

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