Deepika Lal

Degree: Postgraduate Diploma in Climate Change

Graduated: April 2012

Current Position: Masters student at the University of Hawaii

Current Employment/Academic Status?
Pursuing Masters of Science in Natural Resource and Environment Management (GIS/Remote Sensing) at the University of Hawaii, USA. Due to graduate in May 2015.
Acquired a Postgraduate Diploma in Climate Change at USP then worked for the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) at USP as the climate change quiz questions coordinator from March to August 2012, after which I left for the United States to pursue my Master’s degree.

What was your reason for enrolling on a Climate Change Program in PaCE-SD?
My undergraduate degree was in Environmental Science. Today, Climate change is one of the biggest issues affecting the environment and our natural resources in particular for the Pacific Region. I decided to enrol in this program to get a better understanding of climate change – what it is, what causes it, its impacts and what could be done to adapt and/or mitigate the impacts of climate change. Apart from the science of climate change, in general it is a political issue and therefore understanding it would enable us to be innovative in approaching the issue more coherently. The one-year experience I had with PaCE – SD was worthwhile and I learned a lot. It made me well informed on climate change and the issues associated with it.

What does your current career involve? (i.e your main responsibilities)
I am still a student so at the moment my main responsibility is to study hard and complete the Master’s degree on time.

How has your knowledge and skills gained from your studies assisted you and the organisation that you are working in with their duties related to climate change?
While on the job as the climate change quiz coordinator, my main task was to develop thousands of questions for the quiz. This was made possible due to the post graduate courses I took during that one year. The knowledge I gained was intense, and assisted me in preparing the questions. It made 75% of the work much easier.
And now on my Master’s degree program, having a background in climate change elevates my understanding on studying natural resource and environmental issues. One of the biggest negative impacts on NR and the environment is climate change and this is a topic of study in almost all of my NREM courses. Now I have a better understanding of climate change and therefore am at an advantage in class. Sometimes I even end up teaching my class mates on climate change and its impacts in the Pacific.

Can you tell us about any success stories in your career after you have graduated that you believe was made possible with your study experience at PaCE-SD?
Receiving the United States South Pacific (USSP) scholarship and getting admitted into the Natural Resource and Environment Management (NREM) Department at University of Hawaii, Manoa. The Post graduate course had put me at a greater advantage in getting enrolled. USP is quite a recognised institution and having a post graduate course from PaCE – SD has helped a lot. There are many climate change conferences, tok stories and events organised here in Hawaii. Having a background in CC helps me a lot when attending these events.

What have you done differently/better now in your job after graduation?
Doing the postgraduate course in climate change, as I said before has made me well informed in this area. The US system for graduate courses is that you end up writing vast amount of papers. I realise now that 90% of the papers that I have written in the past 1.5years of my Master’s degree are centred on one theme – climate change. Without this course, I do not think I would be writing such papers and impressing my professors.

What ambitions do you have for the future in your career?
I am interested in working with environmental organisations in the GIS/Remote sensing field. I am very much interested in terrestrial ecology as well. I am still undecided though, but by the end of my studies, I should have a better idea of what I actually want to do.

What are you most proud of in your life? (Can be a personal achievement or work related)
Being 1 of the 4 students out of more than 500 applicants who receive the United States South Pacific (USSP) scholarship each year to study in Hawaii from 11 different Pacific Island nations. This is a great scholarship and I would encourage anyone who wants to pursue a Bachelors or a Master’s degree to apply for this scholarship.
I have always been the youngest student in my class ever since I started my Diploma in Fiji National University until today when I am pursuing my Masters. It has always been challenging but I am proud that I have done a good job. I learnt that there is never an age requirement to learn something new. You can never be too young or too old to achieve/learn things in life.

What inspires you to pursue the type of work that you are in?
My passion to work for the environment and the people of my dear country. Fiji being a small island country and having limited resources will face devastating effects due to climate change. I cannot stop the impacts, but at least with the knowledge I gain in this area, I can help the people of Fiji cope up with the impacts of climate change and have a productive and healthy generation in the future.

Who is your role model and why?
My role model and my inspiration is my father. He always taught me to strive for excellence and do my very best in life. His teachings have shaped who I am today. He encouraged me always and supported me in every step of my life. From being a simple school teacher, he is today the Permanent Secretary for Education. What took him to such a level was his commitment and passion in what he did all his life. He followed his dreams. I want to do the same. Today people recognise me as the daughter of Dr Brij Lal. I am still waiting for the day they recognise my Pa as the father of Deepika Lal and I believe with what he has installed in me, I will achieve that one day.

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