Class of 2020: Cameron Walkup


Cameron Walkup

As a Sondheim Scholar, Cameron has energetically pursued a plethora of environmental justice and policy-oriented opportunities. Cameron’s curiosity about the natural world – and how humans choose to manage and protect it – has inspired him to participate in a wide array of internships and other unique opportunities. Cameron has interned with environmental law firm Earthjustice, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources (twice!). He was selected for the competitive Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program, which allowed him to spend one summer learning about conservation at Northern Arizona University, and the next summer interning with The Wilderness Society in Bozeman, Montana.

In high school, Cameron co-founded Youth for O’Malley, and he remained politically active at UMBC, serving as Political Director and then President of College Democrats of Maryland. In addition to all of these accomplishments, Cameron has served the Sondheim Program community by being an active member of the Sondheim Steering Committee, assisting with organization and promotion of the Sondheim Scholars Stoop Storytelling show in 2017, and serving as a mentor to several younger Sondheim Scholars. Cameron was a finalist for the Truman Scholarship, the nation’s premier graduate fellowship for students pursuing careers in public service.  Cameron’s dedication and excellence have been recognized with several awards, including the Blaustein Scholarship, an award given to one outstanding Sondheim Scholar from each cohort, and an Outstanding Senior Award from the UMBC Department of Geography & Environmental Systems.

After graduation, Cameron plans to work in environmental justice organizing & policy in the Washington, D.C. area. Further in the future, Cameron will pursue a joint degree in Law and Environmental Studies (JD/MS), and he eventually wants to help craft and promote public lands co-management agreements between Native Nations and the federal government.

What are you most proud of from your time at UMBC? 

Interning full-time with the House Committee on Natural Resources in fall 2017 and getting to write statements, questions, and briefs for Members of Congress.

What is your most memorable public service experience as a Sondheim Scholar? Volunteering with the UMBC Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site in spring 2017 led to so many powerful moments. In particular, I remember helping an elderly man who had lost many of his fingers file his taxes and learning about his work with Project PLASE. Hearing how proud he was of his work and how effective this local nonprofit is was very inspiring.

What was your favorite Sondheim event? 

My favorite Sondheim event was the first Sondheim Scholars Fall Retreat! Seeing Sondheim’s of every year coming together to learn about policy, explore Baltimore, and build connections between one another was an incredible experience I will keep with me forever.

What is an important thing you learned about yourself at UMBC?

I learned to embrace change. While growth can be scary, I am fortunate for all the people who have challenged me in ways that made me who I am today.

What’s an important thing you learned about the world beyond campus while you were a student at UMBC? 

Our world is incredibly inequitable and unjust, but together, we can imagine and create better futures.