Doctoral Candidate, Andrea Gagyi-Palffy's reflections on the Doctoral Program

March 3, 2017

When talking about her reasons for hope, Jane Goodall stated: “there are so many people who have dreamed seemingly unattainable dreams and, because they never gave up, achieved their goals against all the odds.”

These words are very important to me because following my passion and believing in what I do have brought me where I am today. My love for nature and my wish to work in the field of nature conservation have guided my educational and professional choices. I studied Environmental Sciences both during my Bachelor and my Masters studies in Romania, I have attended several national and international courses and training in the field and I have been a volunteer for two environmental NGO’s during this time, working in biodiversity conservation, nature education and responsible tourism. My work as a volunteer has had great impact on me. It was in this role that I learned to apply the knowledge I gained, I gathered practical experience and I was directly faced with the challenges entailed by working in this field. At this point, embarking on a PhD program represented an essential stepping-stone for my becoming an expert in the field and working at a higher academic and professional level.

I am currently a second year PhD candidate in the Environmental Science and Policy Department at CEU. Becoming a doctoral student at CEU has been a huge opportunity for me, because it has given me the amazing chance to pursue one of my biggest dreams: working with wolves! I have been fascinated with wolves my entire life and I have been eager to bring my contribution to wolf conservation, by showing the importance of protecting this species and by promoting proper wolf management. But I have had a hard time finding my way into in this field in Romania. Now CEU has offered me this opportunity.

As part of my research I am currently studying the conflicts between people and wolves, and all the associated issues, in the specific context of the Western Carpathians, Romania. I am guided in this quest by professors Brandon Anthony, Alex Antypas and Dr. Jennifer Miller, my committee members, who sustain my progress with great care, dedication and wisdom. Thus, I feel confident and enthusiastic about carrying out my research, knowing that I am always sustained in this challenging, but also rewarding process.

The reward of the entire PhD program for me, is not as much about the results that I obtain, as it is about the no matter how small contribution my research can bring to the bettering of the real world. It is a feeling of fulfillment you have when you see your own self-growth and when you know that you can bring at least an ounce of good to the world around you.

This being said, being part of CEU, from my point of view, is a great chance to learn in an institution committed to excellence and to interdisciplinary approaches and research that is socially relevant. I believe that the open and friendly, student-centered environment that CEU fosters, is an environment that nurtures self-learning and self-development. We, as student, learn how to use our own judgement and thinking, in other words, we learn how to learn, and how to do things with our own strength. These traits are very important for us further on in life when we face the realities of the field we pursued.
In conclusion, I would like to revert to Jane Goodall’s words: “Let’s have faith in ourselves, in our intellect, in our staunch spirit and in our young people. And let’s do the work that needs to be done, with love and compassion."