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In my words: I was selected to discuss climate change at the White House (Gaby Beck ‘26)

Posted by on Friday, November 17, 2023 in News Story, Profiles.

Gabrielle Beck
Neuroscience and English, ‘26

Hear from sophomore Gabrielle Beck, who attended the National Climate Assessment report release at the White House, about her interest in climate change and public health disparities and her plans for the future.

Woman standing in a large room
Gabrielle Beck inside the White House for the fifth release of the National Climate Assessment. She was one of two students selected nationally to attend.

My passion is in understanding and addressing the intersection of climate change and public health disparities. Under the guidance of Leah Dundon, research assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, I had the privilege of serving as an NSF Youth Environmental Alliance in Higher Education (YEAH Fellow) last year. During this time, I contributed to the editing and design of an e-book aimed at high school students, exploring the intricate links between climate change, health, and social inequities.

My commitment to the cause extends beyond the academic realm. I engaged in an Immersion project with Open Table Nashville, an organization dedicated to breaking the cycles of poverty, advocating for the marginalized, and educating on issues of homelessness. Heat has always made being unhoused harder, but climate change worsens this reality. My focus is on enhancing data collection methods and designing effective solutions to mitigate the health impacts of rising temperatures.This experience provided me with valuable insights that inform my current work at the intersection of public health, public policy, and climate change. Additionally, with the support of the Association of Maternal and Child Health (AMCHP), I collaborated with doula organizations supporting women in environmentally vulnerable regions. Together, we presented on the vital role of doulas as reproductive justice advocates in the face of the climate crisis.

Because of my work with Dr. Dundon, I was one of two students nationally selected to attend the fifth release of the Woman in yellow jacket posingNational Climate Assessment, which assesses changes in the climate, its national and regional impacts, and options for reducing present and future risk. At the crux of this report, was advancing environmental justice and bolstering climate resilience with the inclusion of diverse perspectives. On November 14th, 2023, I attended the release in Washington D.C. at the White House.

Participating in discussions led by climate experts and community organizers has been enlightening. It was inspiring to learn how centering equity in the design of innovative solutions can truly make a difference. Notably, the Fifth National Climate Assessment, spearheaded by Allison Crimmins, Director of the Assessment, stood out to me for its incorporation of creative modes of catharsis. Utilizing paintings from youth and a poem by Ada Límon, the assessment employed these artistic expressions as a means of processing solastalgia. Moreover, it was exciting to be in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the center of our country’s decision making and conversing with the leaders of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, guiding our country’s journey towards environmentally just solutions.

Looking ahead, my aspirations extend to becoming a nurse practitioner, where I can continue to bridge the gaps between healthcare, environmental awareness, and social justice. The journey so far has been both fulfilling and enlightening, and I eagerly anticipate further opportunities to contribute meaningfully to the discourse and action surrounding climate change and its impact on human health.

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