Q&A with Brittany Hoedemaker

Picture of SMEA student Brittany Hoedemaker wearing a white shirt and black pants standing in front of green shrubs with yellow flowers
Brittany Hoedemaker ’20

Why did you decide to pursue a Master of Marine Affairs?

Honestly? I didn’t. I pursued SMEA, and that pursuit will result in an MMA!

Why did you decide to come to UW’s SMEA for graduate school?

I was working a corporate job and in many ways, really enjoyed it. But at the end of each day I felt unfulfilled, and knew I ultimately wanted my job to be more mission/impact driven. One day my friend, Jen, asked me if I’d consider grad school, and I actually pulled up the UW website to read aloud their programs to illustrate how there “wasn’t a program for me.”

I’ve never been so happy to be wrong. I thought grad school was all about research, and while I definitely (and frequently) dreamt about spending a few years studying sharks, I knew that work would be mostly self-indulgent and not leading me down a career path that felt right. SMEA, on the other hand, offered a courses only track that would allow me to beef up the areas of my learning that felt a little lean, and do that in an environment that valued interdisciplinarity (and, indulge in some fun classes along the way). I owe Jen forever.

Are you doing a thesis or capstone project? If thesis, what are you writing your thesis about and why? If capstone, what is the project about? If you haven’t decided, what do you think you might do and  why?

Neither! I’m a courses-only student. I wanted to take a lot of classes and explore learning opportunities outside of SMEA, and this track has allowed me to do that!

What has been your favorite class at UW so far? Why?

My favorite SMEA class was Marc Miller’s tourism course. Marc’s teaching style was so refreshing and such a fantastic introduction into graduate school – he wants you

SMEA Student Brittany Hoedemaker wearing a blue down jacket and winter hat standing in front of a large, red rock formation in Sedona, AZ.
Brittany playing tourist in Sedona, AZ.

to get excited about something (anything!) and see where that path of intrigue leads you. Any class that encourages curiosity is a win for me.

In that same vein, I loved Joaquin Herranz’s class on the quadruple bottom line (QBL) at the Evans School. I was able to develop and pitch a QBL business, and was actually inspired by Marc’s class to do my final project on QBL tourism. Joaquin was also really committed to providing a healthy and supportive space for learning in his classroom, which made for a low stress yet invigorating quarter.

My absolute favorite class so far, though, has been Erica Mills Barnhart’s class on Marketing for Social Impact in the Evans School. She presented a framework and tools that rounded out the knowledge, insight, skills, etc that I felt I was missing and desperately wanted to gain during my grad program. Most importantly, the class provided to me an opportunity for some personal brand refinement – something that will come in handy as I apply for jobs. I feel like I can graduate with peace, now, with a clearer sense of mission and self.

What do you like most about SMEA?

The interdisciplinarity is the best thing, academically. The people are the real best part, though. It’s really quite magical to be part of a community that is so incredibly passionate, supportive, and full of brilliance. Students and faculty alike genuinely want to see each other thrive.

What’s it like to live in Seattle? What do you do in your spare time?

SMEA student Brittany Hoedemaker crouching down with outstretched arms greeting a small, white goat.

I grew up 15 minutes from UW, so I may be a little biased when I say that this is the best city on the planet. I spent four years in LA and two in SF, so I was thrilled to return to this beautiful, mildly unfriendly (aka introvert paradise), wet city. Last year I spent most Friday-Sundays in SF and felt a little like a commuter student. This year, I’m keeping my feet on the ground. You can find me in the kitchen baking, hanging with my family, hiking, and exploring new parts of town. Oh, and if there’s an event with goats, I’ll be there.

If you could design your ultimate job after graduating, what would it be and why?

Dream job would be having my own clean skincare line. Realistic job will hopefully involve making the everyday consumer’s purchasing habits as low-impact as possible. I think major process improvements are needed in our supply chains, a lot of work is to be done in packaging, and a reckoning is needed around the chemicals we use on our food, our bodies, and in our homes.

What is your favorite form of marine life, and why?

Sixgill sharks, hands down. They’re deep sea dwelling, scavenging, green-eyed sharks! Have you seen their teeth and jaws?! Google it.