GTF's pursuit of dual degree passes through D.C.

No, Jessica Bloomfield didn’t meet the President. But she did meet his dog, Bo.

Bloomfield, a graduate teaching fellow with the Sustainable Cities Initiative or SCI, worked over the summer for the White House Council on Environmental Quality in Washington, D.C. It was the latest stepping stone for a talented big-city student who found the multidisciplinary education she wanted in Eugene and the University of Oregon.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Bloomfield assumed her pursuit of a dual degree in Law and Community and Regional Planning would best be filled by a large university in a major city – San Francisco or Los Angeles, for example. But the University of Oregon won her over with a mix of personal attention and a sustainability program unlike anything Bloomfield encountered elsewhere.

“It was so personal – the deans made a point of sitting down with me and telling me all the reasons to be here,” Bloomfield said. “The UO treats you like an individual – like a person. It’s a small place and they care so much about their students getting jobs.”

Bloomfield is a GTF with SCI, which teaches sustainability across multiple disciplines through a service-learning model in which students work on real projects and solve tangible problems in Oregon cities. Her career goal is to work at the policy level for a local government, incorporating sustainability in transportation or planning.

The UO sustainability program taps architecture, law, business, economics, the environment and other disciplines across campus.

“To succeed professionally you need to understand much more than just this one specific area that you do well,” she said. “There’s no other school that has a program like the Sustainable Cities Initiative.”

Ranked among the top students in the law school, Bloomfield is starting her fourth and final year of the dual law-planning degree. She is an associate editor for the UO’s “Oregon Law Review” and is the 2012-13 David Brower Fellow in the Environmental and Natural Resources Law program.

Bloomfield spent the summer in D.C., working as a law clerk for the Council on Environmental Quality, which advises the Administration on environmental policy.

Her duties included legal research/writing and interagency collaboration with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, Transportation, Justice and the Interior. Bloomfield also helped host meetings on environmental justice and reviewed federal proposals to ensure that they wouldn’t harm low-income communities.

“I did so many cool things I don’t know where to start,” Bloomfield said. “It was not a sit-at-your-desk-and-do-reading-all-day type of internship. It was a lot of really high-level policy things.”

Bloomfield also met the presidential pooch, Bo, during a tour of the White House.

"He was surrounded by two to three secret service guards -- he was so cute," Bloomfield said. "They wouldn't let us pet him, but he was close enough to touch and hung out for a while until we went inside."

Marc Schlossberg, SCI co-director, noted Bloomfield chose the D.C. internship over higher-paying opportunities because she wanted to “work to make a difference.”

“Jessica combines the ability to see the big picture with paying attention to details, is great with all kinds of people and works well in a team,” Schlossberg said. “We have been thrilled to have her with SCI for three years and we view Jessica as a key component to our overall success over this time.”

Nico Larco, SCI co-director, added: “Jessicais the kind of entrepreneurial, action-oriented spirit that really makes SCI so effective. She combines a deep concern for sustainability with an ability to turn her passion into action."

Bloomfield never would have guessed that she’d end up at the UO and she joked that her friends back east probably can’t find Eugene on a map. But the quirky college town with the tie-dyed reputation has grown on the big-city kid from Philly.

“I love this school and I love SCI,” Bloomfield said. “I love little Eugene, Oregon – it’s a really cool place. But it’s a little weird though, isn’t it?”

-- story and video by communications specialist Matt Cooper, UO media relations