Michelle Schopp, DEL-MEM 2016, is the Investigations Division Chief for North Carolina at the United States Coast Guard (USCG).  Michelle is responsible for investigating boating accidents, violations of safety, security and environmental laws, and acts of misconduct and/or negligence by commercial and recreational mariners.  She helps determine the cause, assess appropriate enforcement action, and prevent the recurrence of these incidents. Michelle also represents the USCG in Administrative Law proceedings to revoke or suspend merchant mariner credentials, in an effort to protect the sea from the people, and protect the people from the sea.

Michelle S.

Michelle Schopp

With her varied and extensive list of professional experience, Michelle says she chose the DEL-MEM program because she wanted “to become more competitive in the professional environmental arena after retirement from the Coast Guard… [and] to become exposed to other environmental landscapes that I’m not familiar with.”

Her recent trips with DEL’s courses on restoration ecology in Southern Florida and community based environmental management in Oaxaca, Mexico have done just that. According to her, “traveling to these places and applying the environmental management practices that we’re learning about has been hugely beneficial.” In particular, she notes that “being able to see and work amongst other cultures and communities for a common good has [brought] a great deal of awareness.”

Michelle continues to find sources of inspiration from DEL-MEM’s unique place based sessions. “After each place based session, I return home feeling recharged and motivated to push forward, having just spent an incredible time with likeminded individuals.”

In her time as a DEL-MEM student, Michelle has “ become really interested in watershed management and its interaction with forestry management.” So how will the DEL-MEM degree integrate these new interests and propel her future career? “In five years I see myself retired from the Coast Guard, after 20 + years of service, possibly working with an NGO that is community minded… I feel it’s something I would like to get more involved with.”

When Michelle isn’t busy doing her homework and working on her Master’s Project, she enjoys beekeeping and working on home improvements with her husband, Ryan. To learn how you can apply to become a DEL-MEM student, visit http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/del.

written by Tricia Hooper, MEM ’16