At Oregon State University, many graduate students use their graduate studies to jumpstart a second or even third career, as is the case with Diane Brandt. Diane is currently in her second year of a Master's in Public Policy (MPP) in the College of Liberal Arts. She is advised by Associate Professor Hilary Boudet and is concentrating on energy and environmental policy.

Diane grew up in Oregon and Washington, and she has roots in the Corvallis area going back several generations. After finishing her undergraduate education in Seattle, Diane taught science in private schools and at international schools overseas before transitioning to a career with the US State Department. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest and in a family whose livelihoods depended on a connection with nature, she always had an interest in the environment.

Diane explained that while working abroad in the Foreign Service, her understanding of what it means to work in public service developed, and she increasingly saw the interconnectedness of environmental issues globally and felt a need to push back against a "what can one person do?" mentality. Diane said she left the Foreign Service because, "I wanted to take what I learned, focus the skills I'd gained, and apply them to sustainability, something I was increasingly passionate about."

Diane knew the type of work she wanted to be doing but felt as a mid-career professional the best way to get that kind of job would be to get a master's degree. For her master's research, Diane is helping Professor Boudet with research investigating North America's West Coast residents' perceptions of wave energy. She said, "I specifically want to take a look at how these perceptions link with policy here in Oregon for the development of wave energy."

Diane is also a first-year member of the Graduate School's Graduate Student Advisory Committee, and she appreciates the opportunity to add her nontraditional, third career student perspective to this focus group for advancing the grad student experience.