Where are they now: De’Noia Woods
De’Noia Woods (‘13) grew up on an island in the Caribbean surrounded by lush beaches, wilderness and a rich cultural history. As a child, Woods watched her father appreciate the environment for what it had to offer in terms of diversity and recreation. Her values are grounded in a desire to preserve the wonders of the environment for future generations.
When recalling her childhood, Woods speaks of her father: “He never believed in altering nature’s gift for greed but only in utilizing a small footprint that mirrored need not want.” By observing her father’s philosophy of living, Wood’s passion for sustainability and environmentalism grew.
While at Wake Forest, Woods studied anthropology and studio art, while serving as the creative liaison intern for three years at the Office of Sustainability. In this internship, Woods photo documented events and developed various sustainability themed public art exhibitions.
“I believe I gained the most from being under Dedee’s leadership for three years. She taught me how to be an accountable person in the workforce, encouraged free flowing creativity and allowed me to fail. With this guidance, I learned how to own projects from cradle to grave and within failure, I grew,” Woods recalls from her internship with the Office of Sustainability. “I felt empowered to follow my passions by navigating the current opportunity to my next goal. I also trusted the process which allowed me to adapt, change direction and refine what I saw myself accomplishing in the short and long term.”
Furthering her education and following her passions, Woods attended the University of South Carolina, where she earned her Master’s degree in Earth and Environmental Resource Management.
Now Woods works as an environmental protection specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In this position, Woods assists in implementing compliance with applicable federal environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, Executive Orders 11988, 11990, and 12898, and other laws and regulations as they pertain to the FEMA’s disaster programs. Woods also performs data gathering analysis and interagency coordination and aids in preparing environmental compliance documents.
“DeNoia came to us teeming with passion and seeking a guidance on how she could put her passion to work. Coaching students along their paths to professional discovery is my favorite part of working in higher education,” Dedee DeLongpré Johnston, Chief Sustainability Officer for Wake Forest University, said.
To current students, Woods’ advice is simple—follow your passions. Yet, Woods remains realistic and offers “if you cannot follow your passion in its envisioned form, find ways to incorporate your passion into other positions that will allow your passion to take the spotlight in as your path unfolds.”