Rethinking The Oceans | An Interview with Emily Nocito

Emily Nocito is a recent graduate of Stony Brook University with a degree in Coastal Sciences. Last August at the Millennium Campus Network Conference, Emily’s campaign 10 by 2020 won the ocean global campaign prize.
Emily has had a professional focus on communicating science and global change, giving talks through FameLab– a  science communications competition, and also a TedxSBU talk on the importance of Women in STEM titled “Science and Self Discovery“.  I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily about her 10 by 2020 campaign and her personal sustainability initiatives.

Hey Emily, please introduce yourself for everyone!
My name is Emily Nocito, I just graduated from Stony Brook with my BS in Coastal Sciences and my minor in Ecosystems and Human Impact. In the Fall, I move on to graduate school in Maine, where I’ll be pursuing an MS in Marine Policy and my MS in Marine Biology.

Can you explain what your campaign is about?
Sure. Last year, the United Nations came up with 17 goals, commonly referred to as SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals]. The 14th of those goals pertains to the oceans. Specifically, the nations of the UN want to see 10% of the world’s oceans conserved by the year 2020. My campaign is based around raising awareness about SDG 14, especially in young adults. We are the future- soon it will be in our hands to save our planet.

Congratulations on winning the Ocean Prize at the Millennium Campus Conference in New York City last August, How did it feel when your campaign was chosen? What did you do to celebrate?
I was shocked- I was in the car with a friend on the way to get pedicures. It’s a really good thing that she was driving, because I’m pretty sure I froze up and would’ve crashed. It was exhilarating to know that something I came up with might have a large impact and do some good.

What did you hope to achieve when you entered your campaign?
I honestly believe that any positive impact is good. If I inspired one person to rethink their use of plastics or be more mindful of their seafood choices, I have achieved my goal. One of 10 by 2020’s bigger goals was to engage with the public, which was very successful. 10 by 2020 was at New York’s first ever Youth Ocean Conservation Summit. With other campus organizations, we brought Dr. Sylvia Earle to give a free lecture. I spoke at NYU on SDG14 and the state of oceans.

What challenges did you have to overcome throughout the process of creating and beginning to execute the campaign?
Time management was definitely difficult. Trying to graduate, study and take the GREs, applying to graduate school, working on campus… while trying to run a campaign and actually see my friends! Thankfully, I had a team of interns that helped me immensely, and really supportive friends. The other challenge was reaching out to people in the field. Every month I hosted a free global webinar, and I love bringing people on to talk about their work. So I did my research, and really ended up cold-call emailing people. We had scientists, sustainable seafood CEOs, professors, artists and more. It was great to take an interdisciplinary approach to oceans.

What are you hoping to do next?
I am so excited to start graduate school- my focus of study will be in international ocean governance. I am so excited to attend a UN conference to support the implementation of SDG 14 in Fiji as part of my research.

What do you do in your day to day life to live sustainably?
I abhor plastics! Anything I can do to rid my life of plastics! Reusable water bottles, bags, food containers…. Every little bit helps. If I am forced to use plastics, I make sure to recycle or re-use.

Any advice for other students who are looking to make a bigger impact that are just getting started?
Don’t go at it alone. Find people, friends, professors who share the same passion. It’s so helpful to bounce ideas off of other people and have a support system. Sometimes what you are trying to accomplish will give you a headache or you’ll get frustrated. Having a great support system and friends allows you to step away and come back renewed.

How can people get involved in your campaign?
They can go to our Facebook page, sign up on the google doc or message the page directly and get added!

Are there any closing remarks you would like the readers to know?
Small impacts can change the world. Switch to a reusable water bottle, think about where your food comes from. Read a book about something important to you. Encourage others to make small changes. 

Check out the 10 by 2020 campaign!
Learn more about the Millennium Campus Network

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