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  • Department of Global Development
  • Global Development

Meet Sammi Lin '23, a recent graduate in the Department of Global Development with a passion for sustainability and equity, particularly in transforming food systems and empowering marginalized communities. Upon graduating in December 2023, Sammi started working as a Program Associate in the Policy and Government Affairs team at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). In the new role she is strengthening partnerships with US government entities to drive conservation efforts worldwide. We sat down with Sammi to learn about her role at WWF and how her time at Cornell CALS inspired her professional journey in sustainability and community engagement. 

Tell us about your new role at the World Wildlife Fund! 

Based in DC, I am now working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as a Program Associate in the Policy and Government Affairs team. Within this role, I am helping to strengthen relationships between WWF and key US government partners to advance local, national, and international conservation. I also support proposal management and development as the team works to advocate for and secure funding to continue WWF's work to conserve wildlife, food and freshwater systems, forests, oceans, and the climate, along with eliminating plastic waste in nature around the world.

More broadly speaking, what impact do you hope to make on the world? 

I hope that through my work, I can help to build a more sustainable and equitable future for all. I am especially passionate about transforming our food system to better incorporate traditional and Indigenous agricultural knowledge, as well as ensuring that all communities have access to healthy, nourishing, and culturally relevant foods. I am also passionate about collaborating with youth and other community leaders to ensure that local communities and communities of color have access to information and resources, hold positions of power to influence change, and are consulted as experts throughout project and governmental decision-making processes.

What is something that you learned or experienced at Cornell that influenced your career trajectory?

One of the most important lessons I learned at Cornell is the importance of building relationships with and working with local community members to collaboratively design and create meaningful change. I had the privilege of learning about this through case studies and conversations with my peers in GDEV classes, as well as through hands-on experience working with non-profits around the world and with urban growers in NYC. Among the many things that I learned during my time at Cornell, this is the one that will continue to guide me in how I approach my work throughout the rest of my career.

What was your favorite engaged learning experience in the major? 

My summer internship with Cornell Cooperative Extension, where I had the chance to work with urban growers in New York City, was entirely transformational in my growth as a student and who I am as a person. The summer, spent meeting and working alongside wonderful people around the city, both sparked a passion for small-scale agriculture and shaped my approach and commitment to ensuring that research, programs, and policies are truly built by and for local communities.

Any advice for students in GDEV as they think about their future careers?

I would encourage all GDEV students to connect with their professors, graduate peers, and students across disciplines to gain insight into the different paths that exist for your interests. Take the time to build relationships and have conversations, and also take advantage of the myriad of classes, internship opportunities, and free learning/networking events at Cornell to explore potential career paths. I would also encourage GDEV students to work on building hard skills depending on your areas of interest, such as GIS, Excel, research methods, communications, business skills, etc. These will be key to leverage your theoretical and broad understanding of development and demonstrate that you can apply these learnings in various professional roles. And of course, don't forget to have fun and enjoy your time at Cornell!

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