"Before The GREEN Program, I had no idea that there were so many students out there that think like I do and enjoy learning about sustainability. "
What’s your story? What doesn’t your resume tell us about you?
I think that the black and white nature of my resume fails to capture my natural curiosity about the world around us. I love to read and learn new things, and am always asking questions about the events and ideas that I hear about. I also enjoy traveling and spending time outside, and am always up for a new adventure.
What topic(s) related to sustainable development are you most passionate about? How do you see your generation having an impact on these global issues?
I am very passionate about a sustainable development issue that I feel often gets overlooked: the destructive nature of agriculture and factory farming. My initial understanding of this sustainable development problem led me to adopt a vegan diet and make smarter decisions about food, based on what I knew was happening. The incredible amount of resources and energy that are consumed by our agriculture processes is not something that we can turn a blind eye to as we move forward with implementing renewable energy technologies. I think that my generation has the ability to have a huge impact in making agriculture more sustainable, and are armed with the tools needed to bring awareness to this issue.
Tell us about your Capstone Project experience and initiative:
My group worked on implementing geothermal energy systems for medical sterilization of instruments in Ethiopia. Currently, 80% of clinic deaths in the country are traced to bacterial infections that stem from inadequately sterilized medical procedure devices. Since the clinics there need a means of reducing surgical site infections, we designed a retrofitted pressure cooker that could use the steam from geothermal energy to sterilize instruments. On my trip to Peru, our team worked on an urban gardening initiative. Our proposal was to convert the space into greenspace, using pre-fabricated greensheets, which consist of layers of sod and burlap embedded with soil and plant seedlings. The green sheets help with carbon sequestration, erosion control, and provide a viable green space for people to enjoy.
Is there a documentary or book that really changed the way you thought about something?
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate, by Naomi Klein. This book is a brutally honest look at how our economic system clashes with climate change. When the documentary was released, Penn State had a viewing, and I had the opportunity to see that. One of the speakers who was interviewed in the documentary was discussing the Northern Cheyenne tribe’s opposition to tar sands drilling in Montana. Funny enough, I had an opportunity in June to travel to Montana with other interns from the MorningStar Solar Home at Penn State, and it was here that I had the amazing opportunity to meet the Cheyenne speaker who was featured in the film.
"A few months ago, there was a kid standing next to me in Barnes and Noble, holding a copy of the book in his hand, contemplating whether to buy it. I just looked at him and said, “You have to buy that book, it’ll change your life”. I guess I was persuasive because he ending up buying the book — I hope it had as much of an impact on him that it had on me."
What is your best piece of advice that you would give to a student interested in sustainable development?
My advice to students that are interested in sustainable development would be to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. As a college student, there are so many ways that you can get involved with sustainability initiatives on your campus, even if you may not initially realize it. I attended a GREEN program information session just out of curiously, and ended up not only traveling with them once, but twice! Keep your eyes open for chances to network, meet new people, and travel.