By Mary-Justine Lanyon
Like so many other graduands, Crestline resident Anna Frey – who recently completed her undergraduate studies at Cal State University San Bernardino – is waiting to hear if and when her commencement ceremonies will take place.
Anna, who has lived in the same house in Crestline her entire life, attended Valley of Enchantment Elementary School, then Lake Gregory Elementary School, Mary Putnam Henck Intermediate School and Rim of the World High School.
Her interest in environmental studies was piqued in fourth grade when her teacher was “heavy into science and outdoor stuff. We were right by Lake Gregory,” Anna noted, “so it helped the teachers with activities for us to do outside.”
Growing up, she said, her family always did things outdoors. And an uncle works with the Forest Service, “which influenced me in a love for the outdoors.”
At Rim High, however, Anna was unsure of the path she would take. Her counselor, Kathy DuBois, advised her to enroll in the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) class, which she did. “That helped me get familiar with colleges and the steps I needed to take if I was interested in going to college.”
Making that decision was a big step for Anna as she became the first member of her immediate family to go on to college.
“What helped me the most,” Anna said, “was one-on-one conversations with Mrs. DuBois, my mom and my aunt (Diane Poarch).”
In addition, she noted, “I had a good friend in high school whose grandfather was a professor at Cal State San Bernardino. I got close to him and his wife. They were great mentors to me, helped me a lot in figuring out what I needed to do, where I wanted to go.”
Anna applied as an undeclared major to CSUSB but, as soon as she started taking classes, she realized she was interested in environmental studies.
Through her major, Anna met Dr. Jennifer Alford, who “has been a huge mentor to me for the past three years.” Dr. Alford supervised Anna’s internship, in which she focused on water quality around the mountain and other local areas.
“Anna has been instrumental in my research efforts related to quantifying water quality trends across the mountain,” Dr. Alford said when asked to comment on Anna. “She decided to do an independent study where she collected and mapped water permits across multiple national forests in California to determine where withdrawals were occurring.
“I immediately recognized her talent and passion for water research,” Dr. Alford added. Anna volunteered to help the professor with a water quality sampling project and “once another intern graduated (Elizabeth Caporuscio, another Rim High graduate), I was able to formally include her on my research team.”
Dr. Alford describes Anna as “always reliable, willing to learn and – what I would argue is one of the most important things about field work – she never complains.”
The research team is working on two manuscripts, one about Lake Arrowhead and one on Lake Gregory, on which Anna is the co-lead on writing it. “Anna is not only a great field researcher,” Dr. Alford said, “but she is also a very strong writer, which is rare to find.”
As for what her plans are now, Anna applied to and was accepted into the master’s program in environmental sciences at CSUSB. She plans to focus her thesis on water quality and hydrology and hopes to have Dr. Alford as the chair of her thesis committee.
In fact, Dr. Alford said they have identified Anna’s graduate research, “which will explore the extent to which climatic and watershed landscape factors impact water resources. The findings of this study will hopefully (help) determine how development and conservation strategies can be used to protect water resources for current and future generations.
“This speaks to the heart of Anna’s interests – to ensure the community she grew up in remains ecologically healthy for future generations. This is a passion you cannot teach – it is just how Anna is – a true emerging community leader.”
The CSUSB commencement ceremony was planned for June 12 but has been postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis. No new date has been announced yet.
When Anna does celebrate her graduation, she will do so summa cum laude. “I found my place in college,” she said. “I found my passion for my studies.”
Once she got to college, Anna said, she got straight As one quarter and then the next. “Then it became a thing,” she said. “I was on a good roll, got determined and wanted to keep doing it for myself and my family.”