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Fast track to environmental career

Photo by Mary Knox Merrill.

Sydney Schneir, MA’11, has been awarded a prestigious fellowship to work for the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington on a multibillion-dollar high-speed rail project proposed by President Barack Obama.

Schneir is among roughly 850 graduate students out of some 10,000 applicants selected for the U.S. Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program. The program was created more than 30 years ago as a leadership training ground for outstanding graduate students who want to work at the federal level.

In Washington, Schneir will assess the environmental impact of the potential high-speed rail network, which is aimed at spurring economic growth and reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. She earned her Northeastern degree in the Master of Arts in Political Science program.

Schneir — whose fascination with the environment began as a kid, when she saw a story on ABC News about the impact of glacial erosion — plans to use the federal fellowship as a stepping-stone to building a potential career in environmental affairs and protection.

As she put it, “There is so much more to do in terms of renewable energy, clean technology, the green economy and green infrastructure. There is a great deal of innovation coming out of Massachusetts and around the world, and I see this as the future to recovering from the recent economic crisis.”

Over the last year, Schneir worked at the Massachusetts State House for the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. The experience — which gave her the opportunity to work at the local level on a global issue — prepared her for her new role in the nation’s capital.

“At the State House, I looked at the environmental impact of global warming, renewable energy and other global issues through lens of a Massachusetts policymaker,” said Schneir, who earned her masters degree in comparative government and politics. “My degree helped me appreciate that the issues we were working on locally have international consequences.”