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CEP Senior Project Night

Academic Poster

A quick look at my project


An extensive look at my project

Reflective Essay

I don't put in work to things unmotivating. This website is the mirror reflection of how Community, Environment, and Planning (CEP) has inspired me in ways beyond imagined. In 2016 at the start of my two-year journey through CEP, hearing the expectations that the major had set for us was overwhelming. At 19, I couldn't contextualize who I would be at the end of the journey because my vision was limited to who I was then. At that point, my goals had never been as big as what they were asking: Create a website, publish a senior project, map out your entire undergraduate education, do an internship, be an active contributor to the CEP community and its ongoing evolution. It was a task so extensive and ambiguous, it didn't help that at the time I was still trying to figure out what CEP even was really! Simultaneously, we as a cohort saw that these expectations had successfully fostered proud and accomplished creations. We were presented with materials— websites, posters, portfolios— of past CEP students, demonstrating the high quantity and quality of work that undergraduates just like me proved capable.


The University of Washington had always been my top choice for its refreshingly green environment and diverse student body. One jog around campus senior year of high school and I was set. UC Berkeley then threw a curve-ball in my plan when they decided I was fit for their class of 2018 undergraduate program. A month full of pro-con lists and heart-to-hearts with friends and family, I made the tough choice of turning down Berkeley and heading out of state. Of course, I always wonder how differently I would've turned out had I been a Berkeley alum, but I also quickly remember that so many of our decisions-- those intentional and those unplanned-- can change our lives forever. This was simply going to be one of them.



With the pressure and responsibility of putting my out-of-state tuition to good work, I hit the ground running in environmental studies in the program on the environment (POE). Amidst all the requirements and electives, I fell in love with the major but in a bit of a heartbreaking way. Learning quarter after quarter of all the injustices hidden within social normativity, I felt overwhelmed, angry, anxious, and guilty. I learned an immense amount from Environmental Studies faculty. An environmental communication writing course sophomore year with Ned Schaumberg was hands down, and quite distinctly, where writing began to excite me. The feedback and advice Ned would give me on my papers were challenging yet empowering on a topic that I was more than prepared to spend time thinking. Nature writer Annie Dillard captured all of my attention with her chapter called "Presence" in her book called Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. I admired the way Annie spoke in metaphors so complex that it made unpacking them fun and enlightening. Introduction to CEP was a class I took during my first year here and would have to wait for the end of my sophomore year to apply to the two-year major. I would continue my underclass education learning what I could about environmental ethics, philosophy, communication, and a little bit of urban farming. The prospect of CEP became more and more enticing as I was deeply searching for the academic support to find and express my passions so I could make a god damn difference.  Environmental Studies was close-knit, but still, an open major with course requirements and I was hoping to learn from a student-led major how to facilitate a class and take control of my own education. With that, I entered my junior year with two declared majors.


Two majors mean two senior projects. Having hit the ground running with Environmental Studies, I was ready to begin my Capstone project at the start of junior year. I got an internship at the UW Arboretum's all-outdoor preschool called Fiddleheads Forest School. I assistant taught there twice a week with the intention of creating a research study around it. Early on in this brainstorming process, I was connected with UW Ecopsychologist Peter Kahn, and later invited to work with his lab who was just beginning a study with Fiddleheads, coincidentally! Overlapping teaching with very engaging and meaningful research, my interests molded and I developed a knack outdoor education, early childhood development, and landscape design. Those three interests came together to create my Environmental Studies Capstone. They also led me to add on to my projected degree a minor in Education, Learning, and Society (ELS).


The freedom of finishing one of two majors by senior year made it possible to switch my focus to CEP. But, I instead left the country to attend a program in Australia called Sustainability and Environmental Action. This was another one of those casually life-changing decisions: I came close to not going, and then again close to leaving the program a few days in because of this unfortunate and crippling illness I was battling over the summer of 2017. After an assigned first reading on how to go abroad and make it worth the environmental impact of travel, I knew there was a reason I had made it that far. During the following few days, I grew to understand the privilege it was to be in another country learning about environmental action. My health slowly improved and day by day I felt less pain until I one day realized there was none. The program was life-changing because it taught me what an activist is, how they live, what they do, what they talk about, how they think, and how they stay grounded. We traveled Tasmanian rainforests, spent time living with families, and concluded with a month of independent research in any Australian location of our choosing. I spent 5 weeks in Melbourne, Australia interviewing environmental activists, immersing myself in the activist community, and participating in an online sharing/support circle for 8 weeks with 10 lovely other environmental activist women. By this point, the seed had already been planted that I would write a book for my CEP senior project. This became research for what would come upon returning.


Two quarters left of CEP and my entire undergraduate career and it was time to face those expectations that CEP had set at the start of junior year. There was nothing else to do but to dive in head first and put together something meaningful. What came of it was this website and ultimately everything embedded in it! Explore the pages, learn more about my classes and what I learned on the Undergraduate Courses tab. Read my senior project write-up and my brightly colored academic poster here under Projects. Purchase a copy or download an e-book of my brand new poetry book called Each Step In . This website, similar to most things I create, are unapologetically me and I invite you in to engage. I am more than open to questions, conversation, and new doors so please email or call me with a message at the address glued to the footer of this site. I appreciate and am honored by your attention thus far. Thank you!

Kayla A. Carrington

Pink and yellow: colors of warmth, happiness, and springtime. 

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