Tending the Environment

Reflecting on your involvement throughout high school or within the community, how have you engaged with one of Pitzer's core values [social responsibility, intercultural understanding, interdisciplinary learning, student engagement, and environmental sustainability] ? 650 words maximum

I’ve been conscious of the importance of caring for the environment for as long as I remember because it was a consciousness instilled in me by my Mom, who is an environmental lawyer for the state of Idaho. For example, as long as I can remember, I have carried my own reusable water bottle. While other kindergartners pulled Juicy Juice boxes out of their lunches, I pulled out my trusty Eddie Bauer water bottle (sometimes I did manage to convince my Mom to put juice in it).

So when I transferred to my new school, the first club that I joined was Project Green. Project Green focuses on projects that result in a more eco-friendly school and community. That fall, they were embarking on a really interesting clean energy project that could provide the school with solar panels on the roof for free. All we had to do was convince enough local residents and businesses to sign up for a new energy plan that would have some of their electricity supplied by clean energy sources, such as wind or solar. I happily took my turn at "sign-up stations" we set up in the community and by the end of the project, the school had its solar panels – saving the school $2,400 on electricity each year and making our community more environmentally responsible. I was proud to have been a part of something that had a direct and meaningful impact on my community.

Even still, only recently have I considered turning that commitment into a career. Last summer I worked for Environmental Equipment Company (EEC), a company that produces equipment for environmental scientists. EEC was working to get a particular piece of equipment certified and it was in the "field test" stage. My job involved gathering data from the equipment in the field. The daily data was mind blowing to me. It brought home exactly how much air pollution came from cars' emissions during rush hours. The science was incontrovertible and it was exciting. I realized that if I became an environmental scientist, I could do more of it and hopefully turn my environmental consciousness into something that made a difference to the long-term viability of our planet.