Daniel Dominguez’s passion for the natural environment brought him to CSU.
Daniel Dominguez’s passion for the natural environment started while he was in the Marine Corps, serving as an avionics technician for the Presidential helicopter detachment.
In his spare time, he took hikes around Quantico, Virginia, a far cry from his hometown’s urban landscape. Those initial treks eventually led to a cross-country odyssey after his departure from the Marines that covered more than 20 states as well as Canada, Mexico and Cuba.
“I really started to get an appreciation for the natural environment,” says Dominguez, who is graduating from the Warner College of Natural Resources with a bachelor’s degree in watershed science. “Growing up, I was never able to grow that relationship with our natural environment. I grew up in the inner city of San Diego.”
Dominguez explained he never could have imagined as a teenager that his path would lead him to graduating from Colorado State University and being named a recipient of a Marshall Scholarship — a prestigious honor that supports graduate study at any university in the United Kingdom.
“Growing up, I faced some life challenges,” says Dominguez, who received the honor in November. “I kind of got away from my education. It’s part of the reason why I joined the Marine Corps.”
However, Dominguez’s interests in nature eventually brought him to CSU. There, he spent more than 50 days in Yellowstone National Park catching pollinators for an internship. He also traveled to South Africa to learn about the country’s natural resources struggles for a conservation study abroad program.
Gillian Bowser, an associate professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability who led the Yellowstone internship trip, says Dominguez is a natural leader, always ready to step up to a challenge.
“Daniel shares his own journey into a science, from first serving in the military to academic achievements in science,” Bowser says. “Bringing his own lens as an underrepresented and first-generation student in a field like ecology requires individual courage.”
With the Marshall Scholarship, he plans to study sustainable water environments at the University of Oxford or the University of Glasgow in the UK. Long term, he says he would love to work for the United Nations or the U.S. State Department, focusing on water research to help developing nations gain access to water resources.
“I never thought I’d be here,” he says. “If you asked me when I was graduating high school if this was possible, I wouldn’t have believed someone with my background could make these accomplishments. I’m showing my family and other people from similar backgrounds that this is a possibility.”