I’ve never been much of a nature person. So how did a trip to a national park cement my professional goals? 

Over Spring Break, three friends and I embarked on a seventeen hour journey to Big Bend National Park in Texas. We drove through the night and arrived at the park right before dawn. Objectively, it was one of the most reckless things I’ve done (don’t drive tired, kids), but also something that transformed my life goals.

On our first day in the park, I saw a plaque that memorialized the life of one of the National Park Service founders. The last line on the plaque said,

“There will never come an end to the good that he has done.” ​

As a future public servant, this line stuck with me for the whole trip. 

My favorite hike took place on a relatively flat trail. We walked for an hour and a half towards a rock formation. All around me, I could see the mountains in the distance surrounded by vast fields of colorful wildflowers. 

I had never smelled sweeter air, and although my lungs burned from the hike, I had never felt happier. With each step I took, I wondered: what good am I going to do? What impact am I going to leave? What legacy can I leave? 

These are the questions I will work to answer. 

I believe that it’s my responsibility to leave this world better than how I found it, and the mere existence of our national parks is a testament to that idea. Over 100 years ago, government officials realized that there was a need to protect these pockets of land from people who would want to drain the land of resources. Because of that foresight, we have dozens of gorgeous pieces of land across the United States that are protected forever. The land belongs to all of us, and it has created a legacy that will last for posterity.


Katie Nunez is a junior from Nashville, TN majoring in public relations and international studies with a spanish minor. She is involved on campus through her work at the student union and the International Relations Club. Katie is passionate about travel and languages, and can often be found running, obsessing over her calendar, or drinking unhealthy amounts of coffee in her free time. An Army brat, Katie icares about giving back to her community and plans on pursuing a career in government public affairs where she can combine her love for communication and public service.


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