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Online Climate Adaptation Certificate Prepares Graduate for the Future

Head shot of Saki Handa.
Civil Engineer Saki Handa is a member of the second class of students from NC State's online graduate certificate in Climate Adaptation. She graduated from the program in May.

Saki Handa’s May graduation from NC State’s online Climate Adaptation Graduate Certificate program is getting her ready for the future in more ways than one. 

Housed in the College of Sciences, the Climate Adaptation certificate provides graduate students with a background in climate change science and its implications for society, preparing them to support the development of informed policies and business decisions.

As a civil engineer, Handa works in a climate-sensitive sector. The future-facing certificate will help her plan effective climate adaptation and mitigation strategies in her field, and it already has. She employed a forum exercise from one of her classes to help communicate climate adaptation schemes at her job in Chicago. As more organizations and professionals develop plans to address climate change, an online program accessible from anywhere has never been more important.

Post-graduation, Handa is requesting to transition into a role in her organization that allows her to focus on climate adaptation and apply what she’s learned full time.

Why did you pursue your Climate Adaptation Graduate Certificate from NC State Online? 

I applied in 2018 when I was awarded a corporate scholarship for continuous education. I wanted to have core knowledge in the climate change field, which is where I want to pursue my career in the future.

Handa in protective gear at a civil engineering site in Japan.
In an effort to learn about what Japanese civil engineering projects are like, Handa visited a mountain tunnel site in Japan in 2018.

How did you balance working and completing your degree?

I worked on school tasks at night and on weekends. Since it was a topic I was very interested in, I was motivated to learn. I also focused on getting this certificate, so I postponed taking a professional licensing exam until I complete this program. I chose this program first to finish since I thought this will benefit me in the near future.

It was definitely a struggle, in the beginning, adjusting to online classes, but it was very accessible, and I wish I was able to take more classes.

How do you see your Climate Adaptation Graduate Certificate helping you in your current career?

It will be a career advancement for me. We have a strong program in my company already, and I wanted to switch gears to join that group from what I am doing currently.

What is your advice for other working professionals who are thinking about continuing their education? Would you encourage others to take an online program?

Yes, I think it is a great opportunity to learn online. Work conditions will be more remote in the future, so online classes will be more natural to many people. Also, it helps to work and be a student. I felt like I was more focused than when I was in college.

Do you have plans to celebrate your graduation during this time of social distancing?

I will present my final project at work, and I’m planning to submit [applications] to present at conferences next year. And I will probably celebrate online with my friends and family!

Congratulations to Saki Handa!

Are you interested in advancing your career with the online Climate Adaptation Certificate? Visit the program page or for a full list of degree and certificate programs.