Anna Berglund and Suhasini Ghosh, c/o 2016, were the first two student workers in the Office of Environmental Sustainbility. Before they graduated, we asked them to share some tidbits about their sustainability-related experiences at Amherst College.
Anna Berglund Suhasini Ghosh
What was your favorite sustainability-related experience on campus?
Anna: When I was a junior, GAP was working on our divestment campaign and we put together a week of events intended to bring awareness and support to the issue. It was really rewarding to help organize some of the events and to see the support that was created on campus through these efforts. I have also really enjoyed being a part of the Green Games and I hope that it continues to happen into the future. It's great to see first year dorms uniting around the cause of reducing energy use.
Su: My favorite sustainability-related experience on campus has been the “Amherst All-In” campaign. It was really exciting to engage with such a large amount students who were a part of various groups on campus. Hearing such different perspectives and stories in relation to the environment was eye-opening. It has been very motivating for me to still see students wearing their "Amherst All-In" shirts displaying their support for environmentalism. The envrionment is something that we all hold a stake in and this campaign was proof that we can come together to solve these issues no matter our backgrounds.
What advice would you give to current students who are interested in the environment?
Anna: The good news for current students who are interested in the environment is that Amherst is rapidly expanding the number of avenues through which students can pursue those interests. When I started at Amherst the only environmental student group had just a few members and a singular focus, but now there are a plethora of clubs, groups, and jobs on campus that relate to environmentalism. I would encourage any student interested in these topics to try out a range of different organizations and find one (or many!) that fit their passion and skills. Talk to Laura in the OES about what opportunities there are and how to get involved. For summer internships, the college will often fund unpaid internships with organizations that are environmentally-focused. And finally, if there is an issue or cause that isn't being addressed, starting your own organization is a really good idea. I have always been really impressed by the initiative taken by individual students to implement new projects that address previously overlooked problems.
Su: My advice is to keep pursing it! This stuff matters and affects us all. We are the generation that can make a difference. At Amherst, we are lucky enough to have various resources available to us at all times. Use these resources. If you have an idea, tell a professor, staff member, or Laura (Director of the OES). There are people who will listen to you and discuss how to make your ideas a reality. Do not think that your idea is not valuable or your thoughts should go unheard. There are always other students, staff or faculty members around you who share your ideals and together change can be made.
What would you like to see the College or the OES do in the future to improve and raise awareness of sustainability on campus?
Anna: I had the pleasure of developing the pilot Eco-Reps program this past year for the first-year dorms. I would love to see this program expanded and improved upon in the coming years. Having student representatives in all the dorms who can answer general sustainability questions and raise awareness would be a great asset to our residential life. The OES has done a fantastic job of supporting this program and I think it can be built into something really awesome. I would also love to see powerful student activism on campus that pushes for ambitious institutional change when it comes to environmentalism. I think that the college can leverage its privileged position as an elite educational institution to create change that resonates beyond the confines of the campus. Finally, I am excited about the prospect of the college's first climate action plan, which is being developed by a dedicated coalition of Amherst College community members led by Laura. I hope this plan is ambitious and that the college is committed to achieving whatever goals are put forth in the plan.
Su: I would like to see the College keep supporting the Office of Sustainability in the upcoming years and provide more funding and opportunities for speakers, Environmental Studies professors, and the Environmental Studies Department itself. The Environmental Studies Department and Sustainability Office are both fairly new to campus, but have already made such a positive impact and have garned much student engagement. I would love to see the OES keep engaging students of all different backgrounds and interests. You do not have to be just an Environmental Studies major to be interested or work in this field! I hope that student led environmental activism continues on this campus and these students feel like there is a support system for their efforts. There have been many great intiatives already and I truly hope that it continues.
Where do you hope to be in the next five years?
Anna: In the next 5 years I hope to be working in environmental policy. I am really interested in local government and how communities can create positive change for themselves. I would love to be working as a community activist on climate change and other environmental and social issues.
Su: In or finishing up grad school! In the future, I want to work in environmental policy as I have a keen interest in environmental justice and the intersections of social and environmental issues.