Student Spotlight - Graduation: Becoming Interdisciplinary, Mariah Victoria Cathey (BS`21)

April 30, 2021

Drawn to the creative side of the environmental sciences, Mariah Victoria Cathey is active on campus through ENVS and UArizona programs.

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Student Spotlight
Mariah Victoria Cathey

We spotlight Mariah Victoria Cathey because she is a superstar in the Department of Environmental Science (ENVS). She is a senior, graduating this Spring 2021. Originally from Goodyear, Arizona, Cathey uses her college experience to help her peers. She also contemplates interdisciplinary research, as she sets her sights on exploring the clean beauty industry.

Cathey comes from a big Vietnamese-American family that loves animals. A lot of animals. That is where her passion for the environment and nature began. She was motivated at first to become a Veterinarian but then realized that her love extended to more than just animals.

“It really bothered me when people would litter or not recycle. I really wanted to be an Environmental Science major.”

Cathey enjoys the ENVS Department because she feels part of a community. She is grateful for the programming and e-mails sent to undergraduate students working under the new normal of the coronavirus pandemic. Advisers, like Kathleen Landeen, are in constant communication as she and her peers have been adjusting.

“And I really enjoy all of our professors. They are always willing to help us. l have never had a professor that didn’t care about our education. They are really good at their jobs and I really enjoy all of my classes.”

Cathey knew Environmental Science was the major for her once she took second-semester courses such as ENVS 200/201 Introduction to Soil Science and Soil Laboratory and ENVS 270 Critical Zone Science. During her freshman year, these courses made the themes practical and applicable to her. This experience confirmed she was in the right major.

“When I took ENVS 480: Environmental Assessment for Contaminated Sites, I would say, you get real life experience. You get an idea of what Superfund Sites are and what you would do to remediate contaminated sites. I thought that was a really good class.”

With Cathey being from a small, rural town, she knows how daunting it can be to move to a new, large university. She is a self-described “people person” and has been surrounded by family all her life. This jump was intimidating. Cathey learned the ropes quickly and created a strong Wildcat community around her.

“My Sophomore year I was a part of the Vietnamese Students Association. It was a memorable time when I got to meet a lot of nice people. It really took me out of my shell, because I was just focusing on school at the time. I got to meet a whole bunch of like-minded people and be more social. I think interacting is really important in college, especially being a part of a club.”

She also is part of the ENVS Peer Mentor Program and SWES Club, which help her give back to others now that she has experience under her belt. Service has been a cornerstone of her UArizona activities.

Cathey is excited to graduate and take her next steps. She is interested in topics like citizen science, the intersection of art and science, and environmental sustainability. Specifically, Cathey wants to explore the environmental consulting, environmental health and safety, and clean beauty industries. She also enjoys being creative.

“It’s my designer itch. I want to do something artistic. I want to be able to fit both my environmental science and creative side together. Everyone's into soil and water, and obviously I love those too, but I am really into beauty and sustainability as well. Those are my passions.”

Cathey reflects on her time at ENVS and provides some words of encouragement.

“Don’t give up. It was a big transition as a Freshman. People don’t realize this. Get involved with something on campus or in your classes. Connecting with people in your classes, those are the people that are going to be graduating with you and will be able to help you along the way.”