top of page

The Face of the Her Journey to Climate Resiliency: NYU's Corrinne Joseph Tendo

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

Earth Month

April 2023

By: SemegaChange

Written by: Leila Biola Olukoga

Corrinne Joseph Tendo is a graduating senior from New York University who has already accomplished many of her climate change goals. From Trinidad and Tobago to Canada, Tendo has demonstrated her ability and dedication to inclusivity of communities of color in environmental decision making and policies.

Ever since she could remember, Corrinne Tendo had always had a passion for nature. Rain or shine, whether academically or personally, Tendo always found herself with her toes in the ground basking in the natural beauty of her home in Trinidad and Tobago.

Now, Tendo has extended her interests in the environment and tackling climate change through obtaining her Public Health degree from New York University in May 2023. In addition to her Public Health concentration, Tendo is also obtaining her disaster science certificate where she researches the ways to prepare lower income communities from natural disasters.

Tendo has accredited her academic interests in climate change and environmental policy to her determination to implement these courses in her secondary school in Trinidad.

“In high school in Trinidad and Tobago, we follow the British system of education so we had to select what courses we need to do and what course track,” Tendo said. “I was supposed to be pre-med but I always had a passion for the environment so I wanted to take geography instead of physics or math. After some protests with my principal, I did get to do my geography and now at my school there is a biochem and geography combination so I did set the precedents there with my own interests.”

As a result of growing up outside of the American education and healthcare systems, Tendo said that the discrepancy between the two systems inspired her to make a change within the communities being impacted in America.

“I didn’t change or pivot when I came to the US but it really showed me how different people were treated in Trinidad and Tobago,” Tendo said. “This kind of woke me up to the idea that health has to be the center of everything because climate change impacts health tremendously. The communities that are most impacted by the effects of climate change and suffer the most health consequences are communities of color.”

Tendo has already accomplished many feats in the climate change realm such as implementing environmental policies in Canada and offering educational opportunities for students.

“I have done a lot of stuff for climate change on a local level,” Tendo said. “I’ve implemented compost systems and worked towards developing a sustainability program for my local towns that I have lived in. We’ve saved a huge amount of forests that they were going to cut down just so that they could build houses. In schools, we have implemented programs where we teach kids about climate change and the impacts of it.”

Despite these many accomplishments throughout her life, Tendo has faced and continues to deal with many challenges regarding her status as a black woman in her field.

“The fact that people don't think you're intelligent enough to be in the field and that as a black woman, they don't expect you to be there,” Tendo said. “Then when you actually have something to say and you contribute it, you either get ignored and passed over. Then somebody else makes the same comment that you've made. And then they're like, oh, yeah, that's such a good idea.”

Tendo, who continues to remain one of the few black women in her field as she progresses through her projects, has reinforced the idea of unity with the other women of color around her.

“I think it goes back to my ground and my high school because of the fact that I went to an all girls high school, and they encourage us in science,” Tendo said. “When you're in a room, and you have other women too, as well, especially black women, it's good for us. We work it out amongst ourselves, we reinforce what the other person says; [we] have to make sure we’re supporting other women too.”

Tendo is currently working on projects all around the world in areas such as Latin America, the Caribbean, and Madagascar that work on tackling climate change and detrimental health policies. Tendo has said that she continues to utilize being one of the few women of color in these spaces to uplift herself and her message through her work.

“You have to start standing up for yourself, then, you have to open your mouth because they tend to walk over us black women,” Tendo said. “But we are strong and we are good. We have to believe in ourselves.”

19 views0 comments


bottom of page