From an early age, Sarah Royer loved everything about the environment and its benefits. She was passionate about learning and doing more, from reading books to finding ways to help make an impact. This passion continued to grow throughout her studies, and although she was unsure of her connection to college or a career, Royer knew it would get her somewhere.
âI remember learning to reduce, recycle and reuse when I was four,â she says. âOur family home was within 3 miles of a water treatment facility. So as I got older, I started to realize the impact this had on our quality of life. It really fueled my motivation to find a way to help our community and others like her. “
Now, weeks away from graduating in environmental studies and minor in political science, Royer has his sights set on the next step: law school. It plans to defend communities in order to guarantee everyone equal access to their own resources and to an appropriate infrastructure that benefits both the environment and society.
âI plan to focus on environmental law, as well as sustainability and community development. My goal is to become an environmental lawyer where I can tackle many of today’s environmental justice issues, âshe said.
An opportunity to flourish
Raised in Miami Gardens, Royer comes from a Caribbean house. Her mother is Jamaican and her father is Dominican. The family is united and his parents always wanted to make sure Royer had the opportunity to be successful. And when the time came to choose a college, it was his mother who gave him the idea to go to UCF.
âI am so happy to have become a Knight. The campus is beautiful and there are so many ways to get involved.
âMy mom told me about the different opportunities available at UCF,â she says. âI am so happy to have become a Knight. The campus is beautiful and there are so many ways to get involved. Plus, the amazing football climate was a bonus. I like football.”
One of his first priorities after arriving on campus was to take advantage of all that the university had to offer. She joined the Caribbean Student Association and met students who shared similar values ââand were her support system during her time at UCF. Royer was also a part of LEAD Scholars for two years which made him a better leader and a better person to serve others. During her Spring 2021 semester, she was introduced to the Mu Iota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. where she was able to broaden her leadership experience by becoming Treasurer. Royer will also continue to make a global impact and serve his community alongside his sisterhood sisters.
âI always recommend that students get involved and spend their time wisely here. It’s a great way to meet new people, have new experiences and determine which path you want to take, âshe says.
Royer was also involved in undergraduate research during his time at UCF. She recently completed an independent research project where she focused on the city of Houston, specifically the resources and infrastructure put in place by the city to help protect environmental conditions in urban and underserved communities. During his review of the literature, Royer gained insight into the design of stormwater and flood management systems, the management of weather events such as Hurricane Harvey, and the implementation of measures to ensure equal access to own resources and appropriate infrastructure. She hopes to raise awareness of the problem by publishing her research and presenting her findings to the Florida Undergraduate Research Conference (FURC) and Research Week in early 2022.
âThe interdisciplinary approach of the environmental studies program has helped me learn and apply creative solutions to solving difficult problems,â she says. âThe experience has helped me become a good candidate for law school, jobs and more. “
Practical skills meet real world experience
As Royer learned more about environmental studies and the legal field, she wanted to take the next step and gain practical experience. She landed two internships with the City of Orlando that would give her first-hand insight into what the industry entails. Royer’s first opportunity was to serve as a city sustainability education intern where she helped coordinate workshops that taught middle school students about the environment and recycling.
âIt was a great experience to get involved in our community. One of my favorite parts of the internship was contributing to the management of the urban agricultural spaces that we have. I learned so much, âshe says.
After completing his first internship, Royer remained at the City of Orlando and moved on to the Department of Energy. This was more data driven and allowed him to look at the science side of the industry.
Throughout her studies, Royer was determined not to let anything get in her way, including the pandemic. While many things were virtual, she continued to search for opportunities using Handshake, a database that connects UCF students and alumni with employers. This paved the way for her next opportunity: a paralegal internship with Malik Law PA in the spring of 2021. There she was able to work directly in the legal field – drafting documents, motions and opinions, creating files and assisting. lawyers to prepare for test.
âI took it upon myself to find opportunities during the pandemic,â she said. “I wanted to elevate my professional skills and I am so grateful for the opportunities I found on Handshake.”
Now Royer is ready to take a post-graduation break and start exploring law schools – from Washington DC to Tennessee to Florida – before taking one in fall 2022. She has also looking forward to getting a head start flipping through legal books during her downtime.
âI really enjoy it here. Coming to UCF has made me a better person and prepared me for the real world. I can’t wait to see where life takes me next.
But Royer isn’t saying goodbye to UCF yet. Over the next few months, she plans to continue her work as a mentor and student assistant for the Office of Undergraduate Research, where she helps guide students through their research journey, recommending mentors from the faculty and finding ways to secure funding.
âI love it here,â she said. âComing to UCF made me a better person and prepared me for the real world. I can’t wait to see where life takes me next.