Highlighting Alumni of the BARA Internship Program: Nicole DiSante

Nicole DiSante graduated from UA in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Development and a minor in public health, Spanish, and documentary studies. She participated in the BARA Internship Program in 2007–2008, examining questions of sustainable development in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. She also worked with Dr. Diane Austin on her research projects in Nogales and in northern Arizona with Southern Paiute tribes. In 2010 Nicole was awarded a Fulbright research grant to study urban planning history in Curitiba, Brazil, using her experiences as a BARA intern and applying them as an independent researcher in Brazil. She wrote, directed and produced a documentary film about the culture of sustainability and activism in Curitiba. Since then, Nicole has pursued work that involves public health, food insecurity, education, social and environmental justice, and Indigenous rights. In 2015, she assisted with the opening of an integrative health clinic with Dr. Elizabeth Petit in Alamos, Mexico.  As a recipient of a U.S. State Department AlumniTIES grant, she is currently working on a project she conceived called PolinizAmigos to bring ecology and environmental education to eco-clubs in Alamos. The project involves planting pollinator gardens, creating environmental murals, and bringing scientists to talk to youth groups. In the summer of 2017, she will lead a group of high school students to Brazil to learn about culture and the environment there.

Nicole looks upon her BARA internship and those engaged, hands-on experiences as the most important aspects of her college career, and she has continued in that tradition since. About her internship she says:
I was able to learn in the real world and collaborate with fellow interns. We practiced field research, critical thinking, and challenged ideas about the border and environmental issues. Visiting Nogales, Mexico weekly and learning how to create connections there was a very positive experience. Being a part of Dr. Austin's projects was special because I got to see how she used “Applied Research” to issues of social justice and the environment. Ten years later, I want to make a difference and do work that matters in the pursuit of positive change.