Environmental Systems and Society Minor
Grade Level: Senior, Geography/Environmental Studies Major, Environmental Systems and Society Minor, graduating June 2010
Hometown: I was born in Topanga and spent elementary through high school in Santa Barbara. After graduation I wasn’t quite ready for college. Both my parents are German, and are big fans of taking a gap year, so I moved to London and enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu for culinary school—a very unexpected move. I fell in love with food and cooking, but didn’t enjoy the restaurant trade and yearned for more intellectual pursuits.
Why did you choose UCLA? There’s something about this campus that is really welcoming. I didn’t have a degree program in mind yet so the decision was based on the overall positive feel of the school.
How did you select the Environmental Systems and Society Minor? I took the freshman global environmental cluster and learned about sustainability for the first time— no one had taught me the idea of intersecting the environment, economics and equity before and I found this very intriguing. The student-taught Education for Sustainable Living course solidified my decision to choose the minor as I got to learn more about sustainability. The level of student empowerment and excitement was a major draw.
What do you like most about this academic program? I really enjoy the variety of classes. My favorite classes have been Business and the Environment , Sustainable Architecture and especially the Action Research Team (ART) program. This UCLA/IoE program forms small groups of students to work collaboratively with campus stakeholders to make UCLA’s campus more sustainable. I’ve directed the program for two years. In the beginning I was part of a team that worked to increase mixed paper recycling on campus. We initialed a pilot program in seven different buildings and increased recycling by 18%.
Environment or sustainability issue you are passionate about: I’m very passionate about food since I went to culinary school and have been a vegetarian for most of my life. People who don’t know much about sustainability can really change their life and make a big impact by greening their diet. Water quality and urban planning/city issues are also important to me.
Eco-Tip: Check out Santa Monica City College’s 6-week summer course, Sustainable Works, which is a great way to learn about sustainable living.
Recreational Activities: A true foodie, I love cooking, hosting dinner parties, visiting Farmer’s Markets and trying new restaurants. Recommendations: Native Foods in Westwood and Seed in Venice.
Favorite aspect of being a Bruin? Bruins have a great reputation, especially in L.A., Very hardworking. This is an up and coming campus on the forefront of a lot of things.
Career Aspirations: Currently working for GOOD Magazine, as a Grant Manager for the Pepsi Refresh Project. This initiative offers 20 million dollars through 2010 in small grants for projects with a positive social impact. I help bring the final projects to fruition, use their funds wisely, meet their goals and also have a strong social impact. In the future I’d really like to meld sustainability and food in some way—combine my two passions.
Advice for undecided students? Definitely consider this minor. It has many different tracks and ART is a unique experience unlike any other campus program, and allows you to meet staff/faculty and change UCLA for the better.
Published: Wednesday, May 12, 2010