Now in her final year of her Bachelor of Environmental Science and Business Law double degree, Maria do Ceu Rosales is on the verge of realising her lifelong dream – turning her passion for nature into a career.

“Studying Environmental Science at the University of Western Australia (UWA) has given me real insight into my passion for conserving the environment, incorporating sustainable principles and above all hands-on practical experiences,” Maria enthusiastically declares.

“Fieldwork out in nature always excites me. It is something I encourage more women to embark on in spite of the male-dominated career stereotype.

“If you love the environment, then pursue Environmental Science. It might be daunting at first but it will be worth it in the end”.

Maria added that a career as an Environmental Scientist in Timor-Leste will be both exciting and challenging because many Timorese are yet to fully appreciate the impact of environmental degradation and its economic ramifications.

“This is the reason I’m pairing Environmental Science with Business Law,” Maria explains.

“The skills and knowledge I have gained from Business Law will allow me to develop a more sustainable environmental legislation as well as the ability to critically analyse a policy from a commercial and environmental viewpoint.”

Maria hopes that as Timor-Leste develops, its environmental policies would not only be commercially driven but will also prioritise protection of the natural beauty of the island.

“Coming from an agricultural background and growing up in such a pristine natural environment taught me to value the beauty that nature provides and that we need to do all that we can to protect it, something that is seemingly lacking in today’s society,” observes Maria.

Maria is now calling for mass awareness of Timor-Leste’s biodiversity.

“I’d like to see more people informed about the importance of the environment, its role in our lives, and for people to develop an appreciation for our biodiversity.”

Despite having her hands full with a double degree, Maria still makes time to support her fellow Timorese. Maria is an executive committee member of Timor Leste Vision Inc (TLV), a Perth based non-governmental organisation that focuses on providing rural Timorese communities with education, water and sanitation.

As part of TLV, Maria contributed to the delivery of a 5km water pipeline to aldeia Hatete, a small rural village in Ermera, Timor-Leste, benefiting 77 households and one primary school.

“Supporting education and knowledge-transfer has always been one of my strong suits.”

Maria was also elected last year to the role of Student Scholarship Coordinator at TLV, overseeing and mentoring 10 university students from Ermera, Timor-Leste.

Together with the TLV team, Maria will establish a TLV branch in Timor-Leste to further strengthen ties and maintain long-term partnership with Australia.

Maria is set to complete her studies in December 2016 and will return home to work with fellow Timorese across various fields to bring about positive change to the country.

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