We had the good fortune of connecting with Analise Fussell Persaud and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Analise, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I by no means think I have it all figured out- because let’s be honest. I don’t. But for whatever reason, I am still praised all the time about my “excellent ability to balance my work life and my personal life”. I call BS, but for the sake of this interview I guess I will try to elaborate on what I think of balance and how it has changed overtime for myself. I guess it all starts with wanting or caring about something, being deeply passionate and going for it no matter what. In my case, it is clearly my passion for conserving our environment. This passion alone fuels everything. I will not stop learning, wanting to learn, trying to make it my career, even if I have so many obstacles in the way. And as a struggling college student still, with many personal happenings occurring everyday, trust me I have obstacles. But I think back to before this passion of mine was as developed as it is today, and I remember not being as diligent or scarce with my time for the “important stuff”, but rather dilly dallying throughout everyday without much purpose. I guess, for me at least, once you acquire or understand what your passion is, you have more of a sense of urgency and care for your time. With this new mindset, I have been able to stop giving my time where it is not beneficial to the fulfillment of my dream career- becoming a tropical ecologist. And this is all out of will. The difference between before I found my passion to now, where I have 100% given into my passion, is that today I like to say no to invites or outings. I know I would rather study for my ecology exam or work on my Florida Panther conservation lesson plan than go out. I know these things will help me create long term happiness rather than short term happiness. Now don’t get me wrong, please do not think I am trying to tell you all to stop having fun and enjoying life! Because, ew, no. That is not what I am saying. We all need a break once in a while. I love to enjoy my life, which is what takes me to the second part of this question. I believe in a balance as in both work life and personal enjoyment benefit your passion and therefore benefit you. For instance, I enjoy going out with my friends every now and then. But I also truly enjoy spending my time benefitting my career goals or learning about my field. I also enjoy hobbies that both get me out of the house and fuel my passion. These hobbies include, hiking with friends, kayaking, exercising, fishing, painting/drawing, etc. I love to blow off steam on the weekends by gathering a group of friends and hiking through the Big Cypress National Preserve. We hike and talk about the various plants or insects or animals we see passing along the trails, talk about our jobs, personal life, and more. It is such a great way to connect with nature and understand why we work all week to help conserve what we love.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am not yet in a position of my dream career, as a tropical ecologist. However, I am on the right track, almost against all odds. Today, I am a K-12 Education and Outreach Assistant at The Everglades Foundation. I am a student research assistant at my university apart of the Tropical Rivers Lab studying introduced peafowl populations and their impacts here in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami. I am an intern working on a project from FIU to create an identification guide for CITES in order to mitigate wildlife trafficking in Western African regions. I am a research volunteer working with Miami Dade County Sea Turtle Conservation Program (MDSCTCP) to investigate predation events of various sea turtle nests here in Miami, as well as assisting staff of MDCSTCP in monitoring/surveying sea turtle nests during nesting season (this is my second season with MDCSTCP). And above all, I am taking classes as a college student at FIU. I could not be happier to attend FIU. It has brought me so many opportunities I never thought I would have. I love everything I do. I love working for The Everglades Foundation. I love everything that my organization stands for in terms of our environmental advocacy and educational approaches go. I am so grateful I am in a position to assist in teaching K-12 students and teachers statewide in Florida about our precious Everglades! I love working with the sea turtles! I love working with peafowls! I love helping mitigate wildlife trafficking in the other side of the world! It has not been easy getting to this point. I am still an undergraduate student at FIU studying Sustainability and the Environment as my major, minoring in Environmental science, and working towards a certificate in Biodiversity Conservation and Management. The position as the K-12 Education and Outreach Assistant at the Everglades Foundation was available to someone preferably who obtained a bachelors degree already. I did not think I would be their ideal candidate, but I applied for the position anyways. Without already having a bachelors degree in some sort of environmental science related field, someone like myself would find it almost impossible to still be a student and have a job in the field. This is exactly why I have worked very hard on adding to my resume for years in order to become more competitive and employable for my field. I was tired of working “college jobs” that were not going to add to my overall career goals in the long run. I wanted to work in my field and be a student. I sacrificed many hours volunteering and networking to start off with gaining experience necessary. It was very hard to find open time in my busy schedule (between working full time and going to school full time) to volunteer my time to gain experience working with environmentally related initiatives. But, I knew it would pay off in the long run, so I made the sacrifices. Today, I am so happy I did. Now, I am still a student but my jobs also help me gain insight into what exactly my interests are moving forward, for graduate school and beyond. My jobs even help me understand my college coursework better, as I deal with many topics talked about in class, in the real world. My jobs allow me to work in the office with a team of real scientists and ecologists- we collaborate on lesson plans, we conduct on the ground conservation with the sea turtles, and I am able to ask them any questions I may have about my career goals and more. I am so thankful and grateful to have gotten to this point. I am so excited to see what my future career holds for me so I may continue positively contributing to biodiversity conservation and preservation.

Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
This is too obvious, but definitely the Everglades!!! I can’t sell out all the secret spots I know, but just know, the Everglades is full of tranquility and beauty. Definitely my favorite part of living in Miami.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
So many supporters I feel have gotten me to where I am today. I am just getting started so I know there will be many more to come as well. Of course my family and friends have been the #1 supporters. I would also really like to thank my university, FIU, for providing me with access to so many incredible professors and colleagues whom I have been able to network and create long lasting mentorships and bonds with.

Website: https://www.evergladesliteracy.org/
Instagram: @cynthiaanalise

Image Credits
Mario Cisneros