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

Resource scarcity motivated graduate to earn sustainability degree


May 7, 2018

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

In elementary school, Sarah Collins first learned that fossil fuels are scarce resources we could eventually use up. This is some pretty deep stuff, even for a third grader. So it stuck, and that's why Collins came to Arizona State University's School of Sustainability to earn her bachelor’s degree. Download Full Image

After she graduates in May, Collins hopes to join the Peace Corps to work on environmental issues in the Philippines. She is also planning to pursue a master’s degree in public policy.

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

Answer: I think most of us in the sustainability program start out feeling compelled to fix every environmental issue at any social cost, but it doesn’t work that way. I was such an environmentalist in the beginning, but my educational experience has completely changed my perspective of the world. For example, artificial fertilizers can be terrible for ecosystems and are a huge problem in the U.S. But you must look at the big picture and understand that there is a need to mass produce food to sustain population growth. You can’t just make people stop eating or stop reproducing, so you have to analyze other ways to solve the problems.

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

A: Working full time, I’ve had a somewhat unconventional college experience. I never thought I was capable of balancing work and school, and I was giving up before I even started. What I learned is, you need to find a mentor or role model who has had the same challenges you’ve had and reached your same goal. If you can find someone who represents proof that you can do this, you will find a way to make it your reality too. Maybe you already have this person in your life, or maybe you need to hunt them down. One of the best feelings is reaching a goal and thanking the people who helped to get you there.

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

A: Who I am now is very different from who I was when I first began this journey. The School of Sustainability has challenged me in so many ways that have made me a better person. In a personal sense, I’ve become open-minded and understanding, because you have to be in this field. Professionally, I feel advantaged because of the professional development training we were required to have. We were taught how to network, maintain resumes and so much more. [The school] doesn’t just work to educate us, they strive to prepare us for the workforce and professional settings.

Michelle Schwartz

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

480-727-6302