Junior Melanie Kistnasamy hopes her studies here at Gustavus will help her improve her home country of Mauritius.

Gustie of the Week: Melanie Kistnasamy

You may recognize Junior Dhareni “Melanie” Kistnasamy from the 2019 Saint Lucia court at Gustavus. She is majoring in environmental studies with an intended minor in geographic information systems. Kistnasamy is from Mauritius, an island located 500 miles east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.
Kistnasamy developed a passion for environmental studies after observing a friend throw out trash while on a public bus.
Kistnasamy plans to use her environmental studies degree to help Mauritius. She hopes to establish a core foundation in sustainability and work to improve the education system, transportation system, waste management and tourism in her country.
“We would return back home on the public bus and [my friend] would always eat stuff and then throw it out the window [of the bus]…I was very annoyed,” Kistnasamy said.
After observing her friend’s behavior, she took action. This interaction created in her a spark for learning about and caring for the environment.
“Eventually I would get [my friend] to keep her rubbish [on the bus] and just throw it in a bin,” Kistnasamy said.
Kistnasamy has since begun getting experience within the field. During her last couple of years in high school, she volunteered at Eli Africa, a non-governmental organization that educates underprivileged children using experiential and hands-on training while also focusing on the identification and conservation of ecosystems in Mauritius.
Kistnasamy was involved with the “Mangrove Project” within the aforementioned Eli Africa Organization. The objective of the project is “propagating mangroves and restoring our marine ecosystem,” the Eli Africa Organization website says.
“[Mangroves] have a lot of benefits, and one of the most important is that they reduce the impacts of floods when sea levels rise,” Kistnasamy said.
Her time as a volunteer also involved educating and spreading awareness about endemic plants, which are plants that only exist in a small region of the world.
“I would educate and sell and promote the benefits of endemic plants in Mauritius,” Kistnasamy said.
Kistnasamy’s time as a volunteer was what gave her the “aha” moment, which helped her develop a passion for the environmental field. Although participation in clubs is curbed due to COVID-19, Kistnasamy has, in the past, been involved in French Club, the Environmental Action Coalition, ThriftyGold, Oxfam, Activity Leader Support for International Students and Diversity Leadership Council.
“Get involved because it really is a great way to meet new people…and do things like act on the things you believe in or the things that matter to you or even get experience on what you’re learning,” Kistnasamy said.
Kistnasamy is currently looking for an internship opportunity for next spring and hopes to attend graduate school upon graduation from Gustavus.

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