Schmitt Shoots!!
As a young girl growing up in New York City, Cia Bruno ’01 dreamed of being a doctor. Her father worked long hours as a taxicab driver to send her to private schools, where she earned straight A’s. Bruno’s high marks won her a spot in Harvard’s pre-med program, but marriage and motherhood sent her on a different journey. “I took pre-med courses at City College of New York, but was soon overwhelmed by the demands of college coursework and motherhood,” Bruno says. “I wasn’t doing justice to my children or my grades, so I decided to dedicate myself to raising my three children.”
      Today, more than two decades later, Bruno is pursuing her life goals as a Syracuse University law student.
      Over the years Bruno never lost her unshakable desire to earn a college degree. She kept her interest keen and intellect sharp by taking continuing education courses, and as soon as her children were grown, she headed back to school. By this time, however, she had shifted her focus from medicine to the environment. She completed an associate’s degree in natural resources at the SUNY Cobleskill College of Agriculture and Technology and then enrolled at SU, where she studied in the Department of Earth Sciences and received a bachelor’s degree. This fall she began her second year of environmental law studies at Syracuse. “During summer vacations I visited my grandparents in rural Puerto Rico, where I made a connection with nature that most city children don’t have an opportunity to experience,” Bruno says. “When I went back to school, I decided to follow my heart and do something I love.”
      Cathryn Newton, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and former chair of the Earth sciences department, says Bruno’s energy and commitment to global environmental issues are exceptional. “Cia combines her technical background with a passion for environmental conservation,” Newton says. “She is determined to make a difference with her work.”
      Bruno is well on her way. She is founder and executive director of TIERRA (To Inculcate Environmental Responsibility, Respect, and Awareness), a Syracuse-based program that provides environmental education for inner-city youths ages 9 to 19. “TIERRA empowers minority youths to become stewards of our natural resources,” says Bruno, who designed the educational program and raised funds for the project. “TIERRA offers young people growing up in urban areas an opportunity to explore the world beyond their limited circumstances.”
      After law school Bruno hopes to play a significant role in international affairs. She got a head start in fall 2000 as a delegate to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at The Hague, Netherlands. She was one of 250 college students selected from around the country to be members of the U.S. Student Climate Summit sponsored by Greenpeace USA. At the summit, she served as a legal correspondent and analytical aide for Kyoto Treaty protocols aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, as well as a negotiator with international heads of state. “We received briefings from environmental law experts and gained insights from treaty negotiators,” Bruno says. “I returned with an even greater desire to have a positive impact on the world.”
      Bruno credits much of her success to the guidance she has received from SU faculty and staff. “The law school faculty do everything in their power to help me reach my goals, and the Hendricks Chapel staff encourages me to hang in there when things get tough,” she says. “With their support, I’ve learned to stay focused and never give up.”

—Christine Yackel

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