Monique Paul

Monique Paul
Monique Paul
Track: Marine Conservation
Graduated: Fall 2018
What is your current job and main responsibilities?

I am currently the Coordinator for the Conservation Law department at Defenders of Wildlife in Washington D.C.! Defenders of Wildlife is a non-profit organization that focuses on two issues: the accelerating rate of extinction of species and the associated loss of biodiversity and habitat destruction. I have the responsibility of assuring the efficient administrative functioning of the fast-paced legal department that works to protect wildlife mainly in North America. They do a lot with the Endangered Species Act! I offer support to attorneys on legal cases, administer the litigation docket for Defenders, and can serve as the Vice President’s liaison to staff, environmental organizations, and the general public, among other things.

Tell us about your MPS internship

I completed my internship at Miami Waterkeeper as a Policy Intern. I was tasked with researching and developing a fertilizer ordinance for Miami-Dade County to help reduce nutrient pollution into Biscayne Bay. I spent a lot of time reading about soil! During this process I learned to read legal documents, draft legislation, and present it to elected officials in the hopes of getting it passed. While the ordinance was my focus, I learned early on that it would be the most beneficial for me to be flexible and help out wherever I could. Because of this, I gained a lot of skills outside of policy as well. I assisted taking water samples from around Biscayne Bay during Miami Waterkeeper’s weekly water quality testing. I learned database management as well as public speaking and conservation outreach by participating in many of Miami Waterkeeper’s outreach events. Taking on all these different tasks taught me a lot about non-profit management and how a lot of times team effort is really necessary. I found that gaining skills in more than one area made me a more well-rounded individual and made more opportunities available to me. I also met and connected with several people while working at my internship, and those connections helped get me where I am today.

What were your favorite classes at RSMAS and why?

I am the kind of person who is only ever interested in a class if I really like the subject matter, and so I was really lucky that I was studying things at RSMAS that I was invested in and that I knew would allow me to take the next step in my career. Honestly, I never really liked policy before going to RSMAS, so I was very surprised when my policy classes like environmental law and international ocean law and governance were the most interesting to me. It made me want to be part of making changes to protect the ocean.

What are your favorite RSMAS memories?

I’d never lived in a place that wasn’t in New York before going to RSMAS, so it was a bit lonely for me at the beginning. I think my favorite RSMAS memories come from the people I met while there. So many different kinds of people go to RSMAS, and all of them share this love of environment. It was really a pleasure getting to know my friends, many of whom I learned a lot from and am still very close with.

What piece of advice would you give to current or incoming MPS students?

I think one of the best parts about the MPS program is the amount of freedom it gives you to take your education exactly where you want to go. This was also why it was slightly overwhelming for me at first, because I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do. Thinking long and hard about the direction you want your career to take is very important and it’ll help you pick your classes! I also encourage making as many connections as possible, because you can always learn from people, and it might help you decide what direction you want to take in the future. Those connections may also help you get a foot in the door whenever you go looking for a job.