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Friends of the Founder: Installment Three, Arianna Mackey

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

Arianna Mackey is a rising Senior Political Science Student at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. Ari is from Chesapeake, VA, and has been involved in the world of Environmental Justice for 2 years with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Defense Fund. Ultimately, Ari intends to become an Attorney Advisor in the Environmental field following Law School.

1. What is your biggest motivation right now?

My biggest motivation right now is being one of the only people that look like me in the environmental field, and realizing that since I made it into this Agency space, I have to advocate for minority communities.

2. What do you wish your younger self knew about your current profession?

I wish my younger self would have started preparing for the LSAT aspect of becoming a lawyer sooner.

3. What are you a part of on campus (list what you’re involved in)?

I'm involved in the NCAT Volleyball Team (2019-2021), and am a a recipient of the Lewis and Elizabeth Dowdy Full Merit Scholarship, a member Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, a member of the National Black Law Student Association, a Spring 21’ Initiate into the Alpha Mu chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and an University Honors Program Honors Ambassador.

4. In what ways do you feel like you’re a student leader?

I am involved in many organizations on campus and host events and service opportunities for students. I also serve as a mentor to eight students on campus and it is in this way that I feel I am a student leader. I am not only involved but I am able to help other students find professional experiences, student organizations, service opportunities and much more.

5. How do you balance life and being so involved on campus?

I balance life and being so involved on campus by utilizing planners and Google calendar to fully plan out my day.

6. Brag on yourself! What’s your biggest accomplishment to date?

My biggest accomplishment to date is being named the 2021–2022 Outstanding student in the History and Political Science department.

7. What’s one thing that you wish you had known when you began your career?

Growing up in the Hampton Roads area, a minority area that is riddled with environmental degradation, I wish I had any knowledge at all of these environmental issues before beginning my career, as I would’ve done more research about my hometown.

8. What is your biggest failure, and what did you learn from it?

While I no longer consider it a failure, a humbling experience was not being chosen as a Truman scholarship finalist. Through the application process I was able to learn more about where I want to go to law school and what field I want to serve in.

9. What are the best resources that have helped you along the way?

The resource that has helped me most along the way is my network. I was able to obtain my EPA internship through a professor that had an interest in helping me. My mentors and my Soror‘s have also been Extremely influential in my development.

10. Who are the three people who have been the most influential in your life?

It is hard to pick only three people that have been most influential in my life. But I would choose my mother, my scholarship Director, and my prophyte. These women have built me up and encouraged me every step of my journey. They have done things such as edit my résumé, write me letters of recommendation, help me figure out which internship was best, and even support me financially. I admire the success of these women and aspire to be more like them.

11. What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing in your role/business/project right now and how are you tackling it?

A challenge that I’m facing right now is imposter syndrome. I am one of the only HBCU students in my internship as many come from Ivy League schools with Environmental backgrounds. I am having to convince myself that I belong just as they do.

12. What occupation (other than your own) would you like to try?

There are two things I want to do outside of the environmental field, because homelessness is an issue that has affected my family, I hope to open up a homeless shelter in the future. I would also like to coach volleyball if given the chance.

13. What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career similar to yours?

I would say to stick to the path. The environmental field is growing rapidly and in the face of climate change it is so important for us to do this work.

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