The first in her family to attend a U.S. university, Valerie is currently a first-year graduate student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she is pursuing a M.S. in Geography and Environmental Systems. Although she is very passionate about the environment now, this passion is relatively newfound and was principally fostered by her service in Peace Corps Paraguay, where she worked as an environmental education and conservation volunteer from 2018-2020. With a B.A. in Sociology, she began to see and understand some of the ways that environmental justice and social justice intersect, which continues to inspire her work today. Her research interests include: the history of modern conservation work; indigenous conservation; and the creation of sustainable, equitable and just pathways to environmental leadership.