Throughout the 2020-21 academic year, the Harvard Office for Sustainability had the pleasure of working with talented students from across the Univeristy on projects that used the University as a living lab to create a lasting impact on the Harvard community and, ultimately, the health and well-being of people and the planet. Our student team members engaged in a wide variety of multidisciplinary projects through internships, the Council of Student Sustainability Leaders (CSSL), the Harvard Business School (HBS) Student Sustainability Associate program (SSA), the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) Sustainability Fellows, and Undergraduate Resource Efficiency Program (REP).
With Harvard coming together on Thursday, May 27 to honor the Class of 2021 in a virtual university-wide graduation ceremony, the Office for Sustainability could not pass up the opportunity to celebrate our graduating team members. We asked our graduates to share their favorite memory, the work they were most proud of, their plans for the future, and their advice to incoming students. A collection of responses are below.
“My best memory working with the Office for Sustainability was helping to run the Harvard Kennedy Farm Share program. There is truly nothing better than handing out fresh local vegetables to excited students and Harvard community members! The best advice I can give incoming students is to take Environmental Economics with Robert Stavins and Environmental Politics with Sheila Jasanof. These two classes truly made a world of difference in my knowledge of the climate crisis, and ways to address it! Also think about joining Harvard Undergraduates for Clean Energy Group (HUCEG) or Harvard Undergraduates for Environmental Justice (HUEJ). Both are great, and very dedicated to their missions.”
“Sustainability is a way of life, a mindset, and the best way to learn more about sustainability is by getting involved in projects and ideas that are being tested in real life. The sustainability projects that are led by students across Harvard, and supported by the Office for Sustainability, provide valuable experiences for students to advance their learning and be more able to secure a better future for the earth.”
“I plan to get much more involved in sustainability work - both through my company and leisure time. Ideally, I plan to buy some land and plant a small forest. I would love to plant the trees beside a river that I love and spent my childhood exploring. I would like to encourage my three children to also get involved. For my company, I am taking it through the B-Corp Certification process and hope to complete this within the next year. I would also like to launch an ESG-concentrated investment fund. My focus for my company has definitely become more focused on sustainability as a result of my experience with the CSSL.”
“[HGSE Sustainability Program Manager] Anne Sargent was an active guide and supported my work as a Sustainability Fellow. She was a helpful mentor, opening doors for me and helping make connections throughout the University that made my final presentation on the intersection of disability and climate change all the more powerful.
I'm most proud of my research and presentation on disability and how climate change will further challenge an already marginalized population. We often take healthy bodies and minds for granted until we or someone close to us is affected. My hope is to continue to raise awareness of those issues and what will increasingly be seen as a bigger and bigger threat to so many people and places. I'd like to be an optimist, but I'm deeply troubled by what I think lies ahead.”
"I am incredibly proud of the work the CSSL team has done in the past two years. I have thoroughly enjoyed leading efforts on increasing the adoption of sustainable feminine hygiene products at Harvard and hope to continue working in this area in the near future. I have such fond memories of our meetups on campus and online, and will really miss my talented peers and the Office for Sustainability team."
“As a Sustainability student, it has been fascinating to get to know students approaches and experience in sustainability that are from different Schools at Harvard.
I really liked taking the time to review the Harvard Sustainability Plan recommendations and contributing my own. Outside of CSSL, I am working on a Sustainability Action Plan for an international company based in Haiti. In both cases, I had to do a significant amount of research to understand both the scope and limitations of the institutions before making recommendations.”
“My favorite memory with OFS was working on the Escape the Room [Earth Day Edition] during my sophomore year. It was a really creative way to get information across, and a fun way to spend time with and get to know the other REPs.
I’m most proud of our energy fluency campaign this semester. I felt like it was one that was very useful to students, as it met them where they were in this moment— living off campus and likely dealing with gas and electricity bills for the first time.”
Natalia will be continuing her role as Assistant Program Director for Harvard Divinity School's new Program for the Evolution of Spirituality, which will host its inaugural conference on "Ecological Spiritualities" in April 2022. She is also a practicing herbalist, integrated healer, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation apprentice, and sustainability consultant.
“I'll be continuing my studies of environmental and sustainability challenges at Oxford with the goal of obtaining an Master of Science (MSc) in Water Science, Policy and Management. After my masters, I plan to work in the sustainability innovation and/or consulting space with a focus on improving natural resource management!
I highly recommend taking a course either in the Environmental Science and Public Policy department, an Environmental Science related course in the Earth and Planetary Science department (EPS 109!) or in the Environmental Science and Engineering program. There are great intro courses and advanced courses that will allow you to engage in these topics no matter your experience or prior knowledge!”