Love of nature prompted ASU graduate to pursue sustainability degree


May 7, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

On a family trip to Hawaii, Arizona State University student Mackenzie McGuffie fell in love with nature and began to appreciate the biodiversity that connected her to nature. Download Full Image

So she changed her major to sustainability.

During her time at ASU, McGuffie joined "green" ASU clubs and got a job as a student worker for the School of Sustainability. McGuffie graduates in May and is now preparing for the accelerated master’s program, which she hopes to complete in 2019.

Question: How did the School of Sustainability prepare you, personally and professionally?

Answer: The project-based nature of most sustainability classes has really helped me prepare for jobs after college. Having experience creating, managing and following through with projects has helped a lot with my personal and professional development.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: My views on food have entirely changed since starting at ASU. As long as it tasted good, food was something I didn’t give much thought to. Freshman year, I took a Sustainable Food and Farms class that opened my eyes to the massive and complex food system I had been ignorant of my whole life. I was fascinated by food and so blown away by how little I knew, that I decided to make my related study in food system sustainability. As I learn more about food systems, my diet continues to shift towards the most ethical and sustainable foods I can find, and my body has never felt better than it does now.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would use the $40 million to create sustainable and affordable housing all throughout the Phoenix metro area. This is important to me because as the area continues to develop, it has been subject to gentrification and urban sprawl. Creating housing options that are affordable and sustainable would have a great impact on the environment as well as reverse the gentrification that exists in Arizona.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those currently studying (or interested in studying) sustainability at ASU?

A: Try new things to find your passion. There is so much to be done in sustainability, so it’s important to figure out what you like and will make you happiest working on.

Michelle Schwartz

Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

480-727-6302

Sustainability graduate wants to preserve outdoors for future generations


May 7, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

Living near a nature preserve in Wisconsin, Tara Hansen spent much of her childhood in nature. Wanting future generations to experience the outdoors like she did, Hansen applied to Arizona State University's School of Sustainability. Download Full Image

During her time at Arizona State University, she became an ambassador for the School of Sustainability. She also tacked on a second major: supply chain management, with a focus on mitigating the effects our food system has on the environment.

After graduation this May, and a brief vacation to Japan, Hansen will be working toward making a more sustainable sourcing process for Frito Lay.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study sustainability?

Answer: I have always had an interest in the environment. I used to live across the street from a nature preserve and would spend my days out in the forest collecting bugs and climbing trees. When I got older, I knew that we had to change our ways if other kids were going to get the chance to enjoy nature like I did. I wanted to change the structure of big business so that companies could be more environmentally conscious. This passion lead me to the School of Sustainability at ASU.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those currently studying (or interested in studying) sustainability at ASU?

A: Be yourself and let your passions guide you. There are so many great ways to integrate sustainability into the world, so find what interests you and run with it no matter what anyone says. You may run into a lot of obstacles and people that say no in the real world. But I have found that when your passion shines through, no matter how many times you are told no, you can make a difference.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I was privileged enough to study abroad in Nepal with the School of Sustainability. During this trip, we saw many people come from around the world to help with the earthquake relief. The one thing that people didn't understand is that many of the native people have lived through multiple earthquakes and have ideas in place to help solve the problems at hand, but they were never asked to help. This showed me how collaboration is key when solving problems effectively. I now integrate this lesson into my everyday life whenever possible.

Michelle Schwartz

Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

480-727-6302