“I framed my peace studies experience to focus on social justice, which is directly applicable to the environmental movement and applying ways to change systems.”
McDowell took it a step further, developing a minor in studio art that tapped her passion for painting and her skills as a muralist.
“Everything felt very connected,” she said.
Everywhere McDowell has gone, she has strengthened communities at Chapman, whether performing with the Floor 13 hip-hop dance team, collaborating on a communication toolkit in response to a coastal oil spill, counseling student colleagues as a peer advisor or interviewing prospective students as an Admission fellow.
“Berkana is an example of the true renaissance scholar that Chapman strives to produce,” said Assistant Professor Richelle Tanner, co-director of the Environmental Science and Policy Program. “Her research in my lab explored how strategic use of environmental psychology improves environmental literacy in minoritized populations. Berkana has been a fierce advocate for environmental justice in the ES&P core curriculum.”
This fall, McDowell will continue her academic journey at Yale University, where she’ll pursue a master’s degree in environmental management.