First-Generation Student Thrives in Environmental Studies Major: Phoenix Eskridge-Aldama, '21
Phoenix Eskridge-Aldama, who is graduating with a 4.0 in Environmental Studies, is the recipient of the SBS Student Success Award in spring 2021, which is given to a graduating senior who is a first-generation college student. Phoenix also has a triple minor in Spanish, Government and Public Policy, and Geosciences.
“I came into college knowing exactly which major I wanted to join – Environmental Studies,” Phoenix said. “At the intersection between social, political, and physical science, I knew I had found my place within the School of Geography, Development, and Environment. Encouraged by professors such as Dr. Margaret Wilder, who taught my Introduction to Environmental Studies class, I knew I was on the right track to make a big impact.”
Growing up as the child of an immigrant in a low-income home with a single parent, Phoenix has overcome numerous challenges to achieve her goals. She supports herself and helps to support her family with the income she receives from her internship, scholarships, and two jobs. She has received numerous awards, including a Magellan Circle Scholarship in 2020.
Phoenix is grateful for the support of her Magellan Circle patrons: “Thank you to Ken and Linda Robin for your donation. I appreciate your help and support and for providing me with the stability to succeed.”
Phoenix is an active member of the first-generation community at UArizona. She has been a member of First Cats since she was a freshman and has worked at the Thrive Center as a peer mentor for other first-generation students since she was a sophomore.
“Phoenix always excelled in her coursework, but it is in her evolution from a first-year student learning the ropes to a confident scholar who can support others through the intricacies of campus life that she really stands out,” said Mark Kear, assistant professor in the School of Geography, Development & Environment.
As part of the Ronald E. McNair Achievement Program, Phoenix worked on the research project “Evaluating quality of life for residents of manufactured housing in Tucson, Arizona: Effects of urban green spaces.”
“Phoenix has been an invaluable member of our research team, bringing a wide variety of skills as well as the willingness and ability to acquire new ones. Phoenix is a dedicated, self-directed and ambitious student,” said Kear.
For her honors thesis, Phoenix evaluated the effectiveness of signage in reducing recycling contamination. She is the energy and climate committee co-chair for Students for Sustainability, where she leads a committee of 16. She has also served the community through educational outreach, first as an intern with the Bio/Diversity Project, and then working with teachers to develop educational materials about the Ironwood National Monument.
In August, Phoenix will begin her graduate career in Environmental Sciences & Policy at NAU.
“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from some of the world's leading climate experts, including Dr. Joellen Russell and Dr. Diana Liverman,” Phoenix said. “My experience within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences as an Environmental Studies major has undoubtedly prepared me to move forward in my career and continue to bridge the gaps along the science-policy interface of global change.”