Stephanie Brinker

Spirit mark

Dean's Scholar

Major:  Environmental Studies
College of Social Sciences

Why did you choose your major?

I originally started studying at SJSU at an economics major. I decided to take an environmental class to fulfill a GE requirement, and quickly realized I was fascinated by the subject. I loved learning about the environment and the impact humans have on it. I quickly changed my major to environmental studies with a minor in economics in hopes of securing a job in environmental policy once I graduate.

I chose to stay with my major because I love both my field and my department. The environmental studies department is filled with incredibly smart and knowledgeable faculty members who want their students to succeed. Both the faculty members and students are passionate about the field, which inspires me to work hard and become a successful environmentalist.

What does receiving this particular award mean to you?

Receiving the Dean’s Scholar award shows that my hard work has not gone unrecognized.  Apart from the time I spent studying abroad, I have commuted to and from SJSU my entire college experience. My commute is approximately one hour each way, which makes balancing school, work and a social life difficult. Receiving the Dean’s Scholar award reminds me that my time at SJSU has been well-spent and it pushes me to work even harder.

Who has had the greatest influence or impact on your life?  In addition, tell us about a SJSU faculty member who contributed to your academic success.

My parents have had the greatest influence on my life. Both are incredibly hard-working and motivated people, who have inspired me to strive for excellence. They have always encouraged me to do my best in whatever I choose to do.

Throughout my academic career, I have met countless faculty members who have contributed to my academic success. Two faculty members, however, have contributed to my academic success the most: Iris Jerke and Jeanine Pfeiffer. I have known Iris Jerke since I was a freshman at SJSU. Her freshman seminar class helped me learn how to become a successful college student, and she has continued to advise me throughout my time here at SJSU.

Last fall, I was a student in a class taught by Jeanine Pfeiffer. Her class helped show that what we learn in college has relevance in the real world, and that having a good work ethic does pay off.

Describe an experience that has shaped who you are today.

Studying abroad was the experience that most shaped who I am today. I first studied abroad at the University of Hertfordshire in fall 2012. I had such a great experience during my time overseas that I decided to study abroad again in fall 2013. Living and studying in the United Kingdom allowed me to experience a new and unique culture and meet people from all over the globe. Studying abroad taught me independence and resourcefulness, and gave me some incredible memories I will cherish forever. 

What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?

To encourage other students to attain academic excellence, I would tell them to believe in themselves and that they can be successful in anything they do. I would also encourage students to major in a field they truly are passionate about and enjoy studying.

What makes you a Spartan?

I am a Spartan because I am driven, hard-working and passionate. I am also grateful for the opportunities studying at SJSU has given me.


Nominated by Dr. Jeanine Pfeiffer, Humanities and Environmental Studies Departments
“Stephanie recently co-authored an article in the national news media, part of a group project for my AMS/ENVS/HUM 159 class.”