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Undergraduate Student

Sterling Pino-DeGale

Wildlife Conservation

Expected Graduation Date: May 2015


My fascination with animals began at a young age. As a kid growing up in Fairfax, Virginia, I had a great balance of urbanization and nature at my fingertips, and I often explored creeks and walked through the woods discovering various insects. I loved adding to my parents’ collection of pets with animals I found outside. Though my parents were not thrilled by it, they supported my interests and always promoted the educational value of wildlife. As a result, I learned how to care for and respect many different animals over time. When I wasn’t starting a zoo in the backyard, I spent my time learning about animals from all over the world. The endless exploration excited me and now I am privileged to study my passion.

I made the decision to come to Virginia Tech after my very first visit. I knew I wanted to spend my next four years here after seeing the kind, smiling people and the beautiful campus. I first arrived as an animal and poultry sciences major hoping to study veterinary dentistry but quickly realized that wildlife science was truly my passion because it focused more on conservation in the field. I have always admired elephants for their beauty, intelligence, and social interactions, and I wanted to put my passion to use. After attending a Wildlife Society meeting, I decided to change my major and have not looked back since.

While at Virginia Tech, I have served as a peer mentor to incoming freshmen, a student ambassador for the College of Natural Resources and Environment, and a resident advisor for Cochrane Hall — all positions that have shown me the value of others in society.

After college, I want to pursue a career in elephant conservation and education, blending my love for animals and people. I dream of traveling to both Africa and Southeast Asia to resolve cohabitation conflicts and expand conservation efforts for elephants and other wildlife in need. This past year I worked for Walt Disney World at Kilimanjaro Safari where I gained experience talking to both children and adults about conservation efforts in Africa. I saw a glimpse of how people respond to conservation in the real world through this incredible experience.

I applied to the Leadership Institute because it has a great reputation and seemed like a great way to become more involved with the college. The annual trip to Washington, D.C., and Richmond comes highly praised and recommended, especially because of the networking opportunities. Through the Leadership Institute, I hope to broaden my leadership skills by working with people on a professional level, and I look forward to having great conversations with professionals in my field

Honors and Awards

  • First Year Experience Scholarship
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Conservation Careers Symposium Attendee
  • Dean’s List, fall 2013

25th Anniversary

Celebrating 25 Years

    1992 through 2017, 25 years

Join us Sept. 15-16 to visit campus and reconnect with alumni, faculty, staff, and friends.

Celebrate with Us

Read the Summer Newsmagazine

    CNRE Newsmagazine Spring 2017


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We have 11 majors for you to choose from with over 10 options to specialize in. Select yours now and join us in bringing the future to nature.