Alumni Stories: Vic Oliver (International Studies Minor Graduate 2016)

I graduated from UW-Milwaukee in May of 2016 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Conservation and Environmental Sciences, with a minor in International Studies: Option A -International Politics and World Affairs. Currently, I am the Zoo Education Coordinator at the Menominee Park Zoo in Oshkosh, WI.

An International Studies minor really helped to round out my education. As a Conservation and Environmental Studies major, I was studying ecological disruptions in diverse environments, how climate change is affecting water systems, why the Earth functions the way it does, how plants and animals respond to human interference, and what we can do to help the planet. However, these case studies and scenarios often took place on a local scale. International Studies allowed me to take the knowledge that I had about the environment and expand it to a global scale. Through International Studies I took classes such as; Intercultural Communication, Introduction to Mediation, International Organizations and the United Nations, International Conflict, and the Senior Seminar in International Studies: Affect, Art and Politics.

My goals have always been to work with an international organization such as a zoo. I feel like my minor in International Studies is what gave me the edge to land my current job. I work with animals that are native to places such as; Chile, Afghanistan, the Sahara Desert, Kenya, and Brazil. I educate zoo patrons about the dangers of the illegal pet trade, endangered species, animal welfare, habitat loss, etc. Without my knowledge of international policies and international trade agreements I wouldn’t be able to effectively answer questions about how these foreign animals can arrive in the United States.

My love of travel also influenced my decision to add International Studies to my course load. Throughout my years at UWM, I studied abroad 3 times. In 2013, I traveled to South Africa to complete 80 hours of volunteer work at Masebe Nature Reserve. We took habitat assessments, bird point counts, completed giraffe monitoring, and recorded all of our data for future rehabilitation of the Reserve. Then in the Winterim of 2015 I traveled to Mexico on the Atmospheric Sciences trip. We studied ancient ruins and took acidic rain samples in order to discover where the pollution originated. Lastly, in the summer of 2015, I studied soil productivity in the dry-lands of Kenya. What better way to showcase my desire for travel, policy, and foreign affairs than to add an International Studies minor to my course load. My experiences in both my major and minor have been invaluable in launching my career.  Thank you UWM and Go Panthers!