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Bailey Cunha-Bustamante

An Environmentalist’s Pursuit of Healthcare Equity

By Danielle J. Gerhart

Bailey smiling

You could say that Bailey Cunha-Bustamante (Biochemistry, Class of 2026) is a well-rounded environmentalist. 

The TV in her childhood home was often turned to the news, so she is familiar with policy. Her mother was deeply involved in social justice, so she was exposed to the community. Growing up, she spent a lot of time entertaining herself outside — she even started a nature club in second grade. When she was in high school, she landed an internship with a nonprofit, where she learned to care for gardens. These experiences helped shape her passion for protecting the planet. 

After Bailey graduated from high school she trekked across the country to Upstate New York, planting herself in her mother’s roots. When it came time to look for colleges, she sought biochemistry programs and ESF showed up in her research. 

“It looked like the coolest school,” she said. “When I found a place that specifically focused on environmental science, it seemed like I would be surrounded by people who think like me. I grew up passionate about the environment and how to combat climate change.” 

As a teenager, Bailey would watch episodes of Grey’s Anatomy with her mother, inspiring an interest in the medical field. She participated in her high school’s pre-med program, and Bailey believes her biochemistry degree at ESF will be a great foundation for her career aspirations.

“I want to serve underrepresented groups who have a hard time getting fair and equal access to care. It aligns with ESF’s mission to make the world a better place,” she said.

She started a pre-health club at ESF and spent many hours this past semester with our neighbors at SUNY Upstate Medical University, building relationships and job shadowing. 

Bailey appreciates the support she has received though the Presidential/National Scholarship program. 

“Scholarships have made a big impact on my life. It’s really inspiring to me that there are donors and alumni who make scholarships possible,” she said. “I hope that someday, after I’ve gone through my journey, that I can be one of those people who gives back to ESF so I can help students.”