Becoming a Science Storyteller

USC Wrigley Institute

By: Nicole Hamasaki

Double-majoring in English and Environmental Studies does not represent a typical convergence of disciplines. Justifying one’s choice in getting those seemingly unrelated degrees can be challenging: 1) every stranger you meet, or once-a-year relative you see, feels compelled to ask “So, what are you going to do with that?” and 2) an occasional sense of self-doubt can evoke the very same question. But these are the subjects I love, and I would not trade the last four years of my education for anything.

This past semester, I had the wonderful opportunity of bringing the two subjects together as a grant-writing intern for the Wrigley Institute, under the guidance of Dr. Jessica Dutton who was an incredible source of knowledge and advice.


The first and primary project that we worked on this semester was a proposal to install two water bottle fill-stations at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. The Wrigley Institute and Environmental Studies program had been looking to build upon the success of an earlier fundraising campaign, which successfully dotted the main campus with numerous water bottle stations.

Over the course of several weeks, Jessica helped me to unfold the process of grant-writing, which I have come to think of as a formulaic style of storytelling. I then used those skills to build a compelling proposal for adding fill stations to the Coliseum to help promote reusable bottles at events and cut down on waste. We chose to apply to the USC Green Engagement Fund, a program aimed at increasing sustainability at USC. Although there were multiple components of the application (e.g. implementation plan, budget, etc.), I most enjoyed the sections in which I could exercise my love for writing through the lens of an Environmental Studies student. Best of all, our proposal was approved (!), and I am finishing the internship knowing that my work will have a lasting impact on ongoing sustainability initiatives at USC’s beloved Coliseum.

This internship has validated my belief in the power of the written word, and how important it can be to bridge science and the humanities. I appreciate the skills that I have learned this semester and feel comfortable enough to consider grant writing as a possible next-step in the development of my career. I will be the first to admit that the idea of graduation is terrifying. But although I don’t know what the future holds, I do know that I have a very good foundation thanks to all of the professors and mentors that have invested in my training as both a writer and an environmentalist.

Nicole is majoring in Environmental Studies and English in the USC Class of 2016, and recently completed an internship with the Wrigley Institute in Fall 2015. 

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