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Isabella Genta

American University, Masters in International Affairs: Natural Resources/Sustainable Development program

Isabella (Bella) Genta grew up in Sarasota, Florida where she attended Pine View School for the Gifted and interned extensively at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. She attended the University of North Florida in Jacksonville where she studied International Conservation and minored in Biology and International Business. While she was heavily involved with her campus community, serving as the Student Body Vice President, President, and a Board of Trustees member, Bella was also able to delve deeper into the field of marine science via research assistantships, working to quantify zooplankton density with an evolutionary geneticist and aiding in conservation driven epidemiological studies. More recently, Bella has used her joint interests in conservation and community education to host a Climate Change Communications Summit on behalf of the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation.

Coinciding with her biological studies, Bella’s affinity for travel pulled her towards study abroad opportunities across the world, implementing development work in its various forms in Peru, Morocco, Spain, Vietnam, and Cambodia. With every trip, Bella’s perspective of the interdisciplinary nature of international development grew; but, it was not until she was exposed to a mangrove conservation project with a community-based tourism group in Kampot, Cambodia, that she saw the marriage that was possible between her two passions, marine conservation and international development. Through the Payne International Development Fellowship, she hopes to gain the theoretical framework and the practical experience to be able to not just find a net neutral solution to the dichotomy between social and economic development and environmental restoration and conservation, but rather cultivate comprehensive programs that by conserving marine ecosystems, enable developing communities to improve upon their standards of living and autonomy as well. Bella will be pursuing a master’s degree in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development via a dual-degree program with American University and the UN-chartered University for Peace. She is grateful and extremely excited for the opportunity to serve as an Environment Officer in the USAID Foreign Service.