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Allysia Yanez

Mighty Oak Monday: Allysia Yanez

Major: Natural Resources Management
Hometown: Poughkeepsie, NY
Class of ’24

Allysia Yanez was reading “The Native American Herbalist’s Bible” as part of her nursing coursework when she came to a passage describing an unknown illness that struck a group of Spaniards on an expedition. The remedy that helped them heal was traditional Native American herbal medicine. 

“When I read that, I had to put the book down and process it,” she recalled.

Allysia was awed by how a simple combination of herbs could cure illness, which she felt contradicted traditional modern medical knowledge. It was then that she decided to pursue a new path focused on environmentalism. While she didn’t know where to start her new journey, she never stopped thinking about it.

And then inspiration came in the most unlikely of places: While on a community service trip to Columbia, she met an ESF student who told her all about the college. As soon as she completed her associate degree from Duchess Community College, she transferred to ESF.

From ages four to eight, Allysia lived in Mexico. Every day her family would fill a basin with water for bathing.

“As I kid, I thought it was normal and that everyone lived this way,” she said.

When she returned to the United States, she was shocked by how liberally water was used and how often it seemed to be taken for granted. Thus began her lifelong fascination with water that led her to become a lifeguard, join the high school crew team, and choose Natural Resources Management as her major at ESF.

Since arriving on campus, Allysia dove right into the study of water, joining organizations like Engineers Without Borders that lead volunteer trips to build water systems. She recently returned from a trip to Guatemala, where she was one of seven ESF students that helped bring running water to a rural village.

For Allysia, the experience brought her full circle to the water scarcity she experienced as a child.

“It felt rewarding to expand water resources and be able to make an impact in this way,” she said.

Allysia graduates next  Spring and wants to become an educator in water resources.

Learn more about ESF’s Natural Resources Management.