Miller Worley Center for the Environment Podcast

The MWCE aims to foster a more nuanced understanding of the complex environmental crises facing us and our planet as well as an increased awareness of the political, economic, and social factors influencing them. With this podcast, we’ll explore issues ranging from sustainability to environmental justice, cover what Mount Holyoke College is doing to address our environmental impact, and highlight interesting people, events, opportunities, and resources that are relevant to our work and mission.

Check back as we release more episodes and keep an eye on our social media for announcements. You can listen to the episodes below or on this page. Episodes will be made available on your favorite streaming service soon! If you have questions about the podcast or thoughts for future episodes, you can contact us at millerworley@mtholyoke.edu

Episode 1: Introduction to the MWCE

Episode 1. Introduction to the MWCE

Welcome to the inaugural episode of The Miller Worley Center for the Environment Podcast! In this episode, Community & Sustainability Coordinators Hareem and Adrianne talk to Dr. Olivia Aguilar, the Leslie and Sarah Miller Director of the Miller Worley Center for the Environment and Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Mount Holyoke College.

Olivia shares her path to her current position and her vision for the center, as well as why centering justice and building community are vital to environmental efforts. She discusses what she sees as the most pressing issues facing us in this time of rapid climate change and the global pandemic, in addition to what actions we can take.

Episode References:

Episode 1: Transcript

Olivia: [00:00:00] The Miller Worley Center for the Environment humbly acknowledges that the land on which we learn, work, and reside is the ancestral home of the Nonotuck and Pocumtuck, neighbored by the ancestral lands of the Nipmuc and the Wampanoag to the East, the Mohegan and Pequot to the South, the Mohican to the West and the Abenaki to the North. Recognizing that the history of environmentalism has been fraught with injustices towards BIPOC communities, we work to honor and respect the history of the original inhabitants of this beautiful land as we also work to steward it. Hello and welcome to the Miller Worley Center for the Environment podcast. Our aim is to foster a more nuanced understanding of the complex environmental crises facing us and our planet as well as an increased awareness of the political, economic and social factors influencing them. On this show, we'll explore issues ranging from sustainability to environmental justice, cover what Mount Holyoke College is doing to address our environmental impact and highlight interesting people, events, opportunities, and resources that are relevant to our work.

Adrianne: [00:01:27] I'm Adrianne. I use she her pronouns and I'm a biology and politics major as well as a Community and Sustainability Coordinator at the Miller Worley Center. And I'll be one of your co-hosts today.

Hareem: [00:01:39] Hi everyone. I'm Hareem. I use she, her pronouns. I'm an economics major and also a Community and Sustainability Coordinator at the Miller Worley Center with Adrianne and I'll be our other co-host today.

Adrianne: [00:01:51] Over the next few episodes, you can expect to learn more about the Miller Worley Center and our work on campus. So for our first episode, we'll be talking to Dr. Olivia Aguilar, who is the Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and the Leslie and Sarah Miller Director of the Miller Worley Center for the Environment at Mount Holyoke College, quite a, quite a hefty title. Um, we want to just talk about your work on campus and beyond.

Olivia: [00:02:17] Awesome. Thanks for having me.

Adrianne: [00:02:19] Yeah.

Hareem: [00:02:19] But to start off, we'd love to tell you a bit more about the Miller Worley Center in case you're not very acquainted with our work. So the Miller Worley Center is dedicated to engaging Mount Holyoke students more actively in the scientific, social and global dimensions of environmental study. We believe that it's students who are well-grounded in the liberal arts, who have the greatest ability to address environmental challenges in responsible, just and equitable ways. The Miller Worley center enabled the students to make connections across disciplines and point of views that help us understand the concept of environment more broadly at work community and lives, as well as tackling the world's most complex issues as environmental leaders.

Adrianne: [00:03:04] And our guest today is the director of this wonderful Center. Dr. Aguilar's teaching is interdisciplinary by nature. She often examines both the science and the human dimensions of environmental issues. So her classes are often experiential and community-based including her most recent course on food equity and empowerment. Similarly using her background in horticulture and natural resources and education, her research crosses many fields and areas of study often falling at the intersection of community, race and transformative learning in environmental education. Specifically, she examines how and why environmental, science and learning communities are exclusive and how they can be more inclusive of groups, often marginalized. Her current research involves collecting oral histories from people in the Latin X community to reframe the normative discourse on what it means to be outdoors for an upcoming book.

Hareem: [00:03:58] Hi, Olivia, thank you so much again for joining us. We're so appreciative that you were able to make the time.

Olivia: [00:04:05] Absolutely. Thanks for inviting me. This is exciting.

Hareem: [00:04:08] Yeah, of course. And I think we were talking about this the other day that you joined Mount Holyoke in January, 2020, and just within like a month and a half, we all went virtual. And I can't imagine how challenging it must have been to start a new job that you're very excited about in a setting like this, particularly a job that is, so community focused where you do want to interact with students and other members of the Mount Holyoke community. How are you doing? How are you managing everything?

Olivia: [00:04:37] That's so sweet of you to be concerned for me, because I can't imagine what you all are going through as students, but you know, I'm hanging in there. I'm doing fine. It is difficult to move to a new place in the midst of a pandemic, especially because people, luckily I think here in Massachusetts, take it very seriously, and so quarantine has been for real and we really don't see people well outside of our home. And then even if I come to campus, you know, I shut my door and sort of stay in my office by myself. So it can be a little bit lonely, but I feel like that's just what people around the globe are experiencing right now, you know, this is just the way of the world right now. But luckily, as you both know, we have sort of managed to keep things going at the Center virtually. And I think that this podcast actually is a great example of how we decided to try to be creative and engage people while being virtual and wanting it to be inclusive as much as possible and thought that like, oh, maybe we'll try something other than just programming or finding ways where we have to be together in a space that we could actually do something that would allow people to access us wherever they're at. So yeah, the pandemic has been challenging in a lot of ways, but It's also forced us to be a little bit creative, so that's exciting.

Adrianne: [00:05:51] Yeah, we're super excited to have you as part of our community, even if we aren't able to meet in these traditional formats. So to start off, we wanted to know if you could tell the listeners a little bit about your journey here, what sparked your interest in the environment and sustainability in general?

Olivia: [00:06:07] Yeah, it's a long journey, um, because you know, I'm middle age. So, I feel like it's been, it's been quite a journey to get here, but I think in my interest in environment and sustainability, I've been working on this as part of my book project and, what I've really started to recognize through interviews with other people is a lot about my own past. I collect oral histories from people about their experiences in the outdoors and how they grew to be interested in being outdoors. And I realized through some of those interviews that I have a lot of connections that I didn't even think about growing up in terms of being outdoors and having these interests in the environment. So, you know, I just think about my grandmother who was always outside and had so much knowledge of the land. She lived in South Texas. And so things like rattlesnakes and how to deal with Javelinas and how to make her own wine. And then pass those things down to my father, who I feel like I learned a lot of that stuff from what berries you could pick on a walk and eat. And when you knew a rainstorm was coming, those sorts of things. So I think just this wanting to have this connection through my family and to the land has sort of always been tugging at me. And I'm more and more realizing that now, as I do these interviews for the book, but also I entered college and I really didn't know what I was going to do. And again, that interest somehow tugged at me and I ended up majoring in horticulture and that's a long story, but as I was in that major. I really took to the sciences and I was in the sciences and then I entered into a natural science field and recognized that there weren't a lot of people that looked like me in my field.

So that was a point that became really interesting for me to explore and find out more about that. So really since entering horticulture in the sciences I've always really been interested in the intersections of, of race and ethnicity and the sciences and particularly the environmental sciences and studies as a path into the sciences.

And then from that, I would say my interests have gone beyond just those connections into really what do we do in the environmental field for BIPOC communities and how are we addressing issues like racial justice in the environmental field. And so that actually is what brought me to Mount Holyoke. So sorry for the long story, but I randomly got an email from Professor Hoopes here saying that there was this position that was open and, you know, would I be interested in applying? And I was at another small liberal arts college and was very content really had no reason to go anywhere, but this Center was really intriguing to me. And what was this center all about? So I talked to my partner and told them that I got this random email and he was like, well, you don't, it doesn't hurt to like check out what the Center is, you know?

So I was like, yeah, maybe I'll call her and just ask her what this is all about and called her and started learning more about the Center. And what really intrigued me was the, the desire for the Center to bring issues of diversity, equity and inclusion to the forefront of what the Center does. And because that's really at the heart of what I'm interested in, it seemed like a really cool position and so fast forward, I just ended up applying. And I got the position and I'm here and it's been really exciting.

Hareem: [00:09:20] Well, we're very fortunate to have you and all the wealth of experience that you bring to our school. And, you know, because we work with you, we see you being involved in literally everything, you know, you're so focused on literally everything that's happening in the Center, whether it's social media, whether it's event planning, but for those people who don't know very much about what you do, can you tell us a little bit more about your role as director of the Center?

Olivia: [00:09:44] Sure. So the Miller Worley Center for the Environment is really the hub of what I call the curricular and the co-curricular around issues of environment, sustainability and justice. And so when I think of the curricular, like we try to support faculty and we start to support departments and including environment sustainability and justice aspects of the curriculum in the classroom. And then we also support students in a wide variety of ways. And then co-curricular, we really try to connect things outside of the classroom, like speaker events or the Campus Living Lab, and I'll talk about that here in a minute, or sustainability initiatives on campus to, you know, the student's lives. So the whole aspect, but how we connect to the students, like we're really the hub for that. So, I see sort of three branches of the Miller Worley Center and I call them, and you can see it in the website, but I call them leading, learning and living. And so leading for me is really this, the student piece, like how are we supporting students to be environmental and sustainability leaders, both on campus and off. So we try to support students in a number of ways through research grants that they can apply for, through internships. We also support conference, travel and attendance. There's a number of ways we support students, but those are the big three things that I can think of. And then we also have obviously the Community Sustainability Coordinators that do so much work. Adrianne and Hareem are representing right now. And then we have the living aspect, which is sustainability and what we do in terms of sustainability on campus, anything from recycling to composting, and then big things like right now, we're working on a energy master plan for the campus. So that takes up a big aspect too, of what we do. And then with the learning piece that Campus Living Lab is really the hub of that. And connecting really everything on campus to, again, the curriculum and even the co-curricular, but how do we learn from, and using campus as a living lab? So those are the three areas. And my job as director is to really try to coordinate all three of those areas, you know, make sure things are running smoothly in supporting the staff that run those three areas. So making sure that they have the resources to run those areas effectively. In terms of like being involved, yeah, I really am excited about the call to bring diversity, equity and inclusion into the Center. And so Adrianne was here when we talked about sort of reinvisioning our mission and bringing issues of justice to the forefront of the Center. The other big piece of what I do is really having a vision for the Center and trying to see that that infiltrates all of the areas of the Center as we move forward and think about initiatives and events that we want to do in the future.

Adrianne: [00:12:24] That's a great way to conceptualize all the different aspects of how the environment and sustainability show up in our lives. So speaking about DEI and diversity in the environmental movement, this is something you've written about in the past, and we'll link to one of your articles on truth out in the episode description. So, we're wondering if you can share any suggestions of where and how to start diversifying the environmental movement so it isn't primarily these quote, white middle-class citizens on a do gooder mission. How might the movement change or how has it changed when people with different backgrounds have had more say and influence.

Olivia: [00:13:04] Yeah, it's a good question. And it's a perennial question. I think. I think there's been a long history of exclusion and environmental movements, and that's been documented enough at this point and there's a lot out there that you can read and then you're right I did that op-ed and talks a little bit about it too. And also, I just want to point out when I typically, if I write an op-ed it's because I'm very upset or frustrated about something. So there's, there's usually a bit of emotion in them. Um, but taking a step back from that, I think about what organizations have done and what they could do better. Luckily, enough organizations, mostly environmental justice organizations, I would categorize them as, are taking enough initiatives on their own to really be inclusive and really be the voice for BIPOC communities. And I think that social media has played a role in that, you know, being a place where people have access to information, have access to resources, can find other people that are interested in the same things they are and can find people who are activists. So social media has been, uh, played a big role in terms of activism. And I think that that's allowed a lot of communities of color to be involved in ways that they probably weren't able to be involved in before, because we had these big mainstream environmental organizations that essentially were exclusive. And again, this has been documented enough, there's been work on those, what we'll call mainstream environmental organizations, there's been work in them to diversify, but even Politico came out with an interesting report that there still is a lot of tension and friction in some of the upper levels of these organizations around race. And so you sort of have to wonder when they will finally make the adjustment that needs to be made to really be inclusive in the way that they need to be inclusive. And so one of the things that when I get asked sometimes from organizations, well, what can we do to be more inclusive? And, and I would just say the things that I always look for are to see who's making decisions at the top and what do they look like? And I also look at mission and to see how the mission is really addressing the needs of BIPOC communities. And it doesn't have to address like every need of every BIPOC community, but attending to justice is critical at this stage. And so if organizations aren't doing that, I wonder if they truly understand the needs of BIPOC communities. And then if their mission isn't quite there yet, I also ask how willing is your board or your, the people making decisions, to change that mission and address the needs of communities that really, I would say are not only dealing with these issues on a level and scale that others are not, but also that have continually been marginalized by some of these things.

Adrianne: [00:15:55] Absolutely. And we'll leave a link to that report in our episode description, for those of you who are interested in reading more.

Hareem: [00:16:02] Olivia on that note, you know, when you think about the pandemic, I think COVID-19 has exposed so many inequalities and concerning patterns that have existed in our societies and you actually wrote an essay which I really enjoyed, and we're also linking that in the description, about the relationship between climate emergencies and migration. And you asked, are we prepared for a climate crisis in the middle of a pandemic? Can you tell us more about what problems you see in our current system? How, in your opinion, we can address them. And why do you think it's so urgent for us to act on this?

Olivia: [00:16:38] Yeah, this is such a, um, uh, it's almost like a sad question for me right now, just thinking about Texas, because it, so I'm from Texas. But when I wrote this, I can tell you, I was at the kitchen counter in Amherst, down the road from us. I was staying at somebody's house and, you know, we had just gotten into the thick of the pandemic and I was thinking to myself, what is this going to look like when, cause I knew it would be when, when we have a tragic climate crisis or a tragic incident related to climate change this year? I mean, we have them every year now. Right? So. I just was worried. And again, this is why I write op-eds when I have major concerns. So I was feeling worried and I think in it, I haven't read that for awhile, but I think in it, I was saying we have to start thinking ahead and really plan how we're going to bring people into shelters, how we're going to provide resources for people when we're supposed to be keeping, you know, six feet apart and keeping social distance and quarantining and these sorts of things. So I don't even think in my head, I had a vision of exactly what it would look like. I think I was sort of asking the question, like, what is this going to look like when we have a climate crisis? How are we going to handle it? With the hopes of, and this is my continual hope that has never come to fruition, but with the hopes that somebody would read this and say, yes, let's plan ahead. And unfortunately, I just feel like we never plan ahead when it comes to climate crisis and we are always reacting and we are not being proactive when it comes to this. And yet we know every year, we're going to have some situation. Now, that being said, I'm not saying that Texas absolutely needed to know that they were going to have this deep freeze. I think that part was really difficult to know, and that they, you know, should have known what to do and in this kinds of weather, they're not prepared for it. Again, I'm from Texas. Like we don't even have the right coats for something like that really, you know? So that was totally out of the realm I think of a really even grasping what they were going to come to terms with. But I do think we can be prepared for when people are going to have to leave their homes, when people are not going to have water available, when people are going to struggle with access to food and just basic necessities and resources. I think we need to know what shelters are going to be available and how to prepare shelters for people and again, where we're going to have water. And one of the things that really gets me when I see those images of people at home is the long lines to get water. And I don't know if either of you reads much like climate fiction, but in some of the books that you read, like this is what is described these like lines for water as we enter more and more into climate change catastrophe. So that worries me. And I think we just need to realize, like it's a reality and you know, I try not to be like doom and gloom and I try not to be drastic, but I think we need to recognize that it's a reality. We're going to have situations where people are not going to have resources and we need to be prepared for that. So I guess in terms of the problems I see the, the main problem is that we are not prepared and we are not planning ahead and for whatever reason, I think there are still government officials that are not taking this seriously enough.

Adrianne: [00:19:53] Yeah, I think you you've hit on all the points we wanted to talk about. And what's happening in Texas is something I deeply empathize with as someone from California where we've had our share of just year after year, increasingly worse wildfires. And so there, I feel like even with a little bit of increased awareness, like we know there's going to be fire season, we still don't see adequate support. We don't see adequate government preparation. So obviously this is a huge issue that we need to be thinking about more. So what would you say to students who have hopefully felt a little bit galvanized by what you've been talking about today and who want to get more involved with environmental movements or even with the Miller Worley Center specifically?

Olivia: [00:20:32] The answer has a lot of arms. Obviously, you can make individual changes to address climate change. And I think everybody sort of knows that and that's been what we've been taught through school and growing up. And so I'm not going to spend too much time on that, but we could eat less meat for instance, right. And we could waste less food and et cetera. And then, you know, in terms of our studies, studying technology, studying how we can be prepared for things like this, if you're interested in policies, or if you're interested in government, you know, how do we prepare environmental law? Like really interesting things I think to study, I think the future around how do we deal with climate change is going to be huge. And so I think those are a lot to study and invest in there, but then there's some other pieces that I think are really big that often go overlooked. And I tell all of my students this. And so I'll say it again, but we have to be engaged in the political system. We must be actively involved in voting and voting at every level, not just in the presidential race, but voting for your local representatives all the way from people who are engaged in city planning, cause that's actually going to be what, impacts whether your city is prepared in these types of climate disasters, making sure that you are knowledgeable about people on the ballot and then that you are voting in a way that, you know, will help not just protect your community, but also being prepared for these sorts of things. So that is, that is huge for me. I tell all of my students, we have to be engaged politically because I think it's just a great example to see just going from one administration to another, how drastically they can change environmental policy for our entire nation. I mean, I think, I just don't think we give it enough credit, how much political representation matters when we're talking about these types of issues. It's huge. So that is for me almost number one, the other tie, and this is I think, less obvious, but maybe as I talk about it, it'll become more so is the importance of building community. So Adrianne, I don't know if you were ever in my office, but in behind me right here on my little whiteboard, it says, um, how are you building community today? And that really, I think is how I try to think about the Center and what we're trying to do, because I was just recently watching Bill Gates on 60 minutes. And he was talking about how much he's investing in green technology. Um, all sorts of things really that he thinks will help us manage climate change. But he said also, you know, we're going to need global cooperation on a scale, like we've never seen before, but then he never talked about how do we get global cooperation? And I don't think we talk about enough how we get global cooperation. And I really think it starts with, how do we even have cooperation at the very basic level of our community? Like, can we even cooperate with the people that we live next to and the people that are on our campus and the people that are in our city, et cetera, et cetera. Right. It builds up from there. And I think another piece that's intrinsic to that is what are we doing about justice? Because I just don't think that we can be good community members if we don't care about racial justice.

So that's another piece that I don't think we talk about enough in the environmental field and sustainability field. I mean, we're starting to talk more about it. And I, and I got at that a little bit earlier, but racial justice just has to be inherent in what we do, and we're not going to be able to make these massive changes and cooperate on these massive levels if we are not attentive to these issues of justice. Those are ways that I think students can engage in these issues. And then more specifically, how can students get involved with the Miller Worley Center. You both can maybe speak to being a Campus Sustainability Coordinator or Community Sustainability Coordinator. So we have those roles, which are vital obviously to what we do. But then I would say outside of those roles too. Yeah. We try to support student research. We really want to support student leadership. So if students are interested in, in a conference or an internship, so we really want to help them get those skills and so we can support those aspects as well. And then we, we always have programming and events happening. I think one of the best ways to find out about that other than our calendar of events is through social media. So I'm really going to push our social media our Instagram page is amazing. And again, that's run by Community Sustainability Coordinators, but through our social media, through Instagram and Facebook, less so on Twitter, cause, um, I'm the one responsible for Twitter, so I'm not as good at it, but you can really find out what, we're doing and how to be engaged with us. And then we have some like big events that happen regularly that we try to get students involved in.

Hareem: [00:25:15] Thank you, Olivia for that. And of course, we're very focused on community building and justice and DEI at the Miller Worley as well. And on that note, what hopes or plans you have for the Miller Worley Center this year and going forward?

Olivia: [00:25:30] Well, first of all, this podcast, we're finally getting going, which is really exciting for me. And hopefully you all getting that podcast going is really exciting for us. And then BOOM is the next sort of big event that we're really looking forward to again, Community Sustainability Coordinators are working on organizing and planning for that event. So that'll be exciting. And then we'll probably do another really big celebration around Earth Day. So really celebrating the week around Earth Day, Week. I think we'll have a cool speaker that week. And then I'm also really excited to see what the Community Sustainability Coordinators are interested in pursuing for that week as well. We did our first virtual Earth Day, Week, last year, and it was kind of successful. So we'll see what we can do again this year. Oh, I also want to point out too, that one of the cool things we did last semester was we installed the Campus Living Lab camera over by Lower Lake and you can check out Jorge was always sort of hanging out there. And so, um, it's kind of a cool camera to check out and spot for Jorge when you get a chance and also just a nice view of campus. And then another initiative that we have happening that we're trying to roll out is the Community Commitment to Climate Action. And this is really an idea that would allow us to come together and, and really decide for ourselves from the ground up, how we want to address carbon neutrality on campus and sustainability and justice on campus. And so it would allow for various stakeholder groups from students to faculty, to staff, to administrators, To come together and not only talk about what they are already doing and what's happening, so it's going to be a great hub for communication, but also to come together and talk about like what they are willing to commit to moving forward into the future and then creating sort of their own commitments and their own ways of assessing those commitments. So, ultimately, the community is sort of holding itself responsible for how we want to build a culture of sustainability on our campus. So I'm excited about that.

Adrianne: [00:27:38] Yeah. So that wraps up our more formal interview with you today. Um, and we wanted to move on to a bit more of a lightning round, uh, setup where we're going to ask you a couple of questions and we know we're not going to give you a hard and fast time limit, but we just want like your immediate, immediate answers. Hareem, do you want to start us off?

Olivia: [00:27:56] This always makes me so nervous.

Hareem: [00:28:00] Yes. What's the one thing that's going to happen in 2021 or it's happening already that you're super excited about?

Olivia: [00:28:07] Podcast.

Adrianne: [00:28:08] Yes. If you had 25 hours in a day, how would you use that extra hour?

Olivia: [00:28:16] Oh, wow. I'm sure relax and either read or watch Netflix or hang out and talk with family and friends.

Hareem: [00:28:26] Yeah. Self-care. I feel like we just don't get enough time for that. And there should be more time.

Olivia: [00:28:31] For real, yes. Self care. That's right.

Hareem: [00:28:33] I love asking this question because I think that it tells you so much about the person. So if you can have lunch with one person living or dead, who would it be?

Olivia: [00:28:42] Oh my gosh, that's crazy. I feel like I should be prepared for this. If I can have lunch with one person. Oh, my grandma, probably my grandma. She's still living. She's 93. She's in, she actually had, she had COVID and luckily she managed to get through it without having to go to the hospital or anything. So, but my grandma, she just really makes me laugh. She is so funny and she cracks me up and I really love getting to talk with her and try to spend as much time with her as I can.

Adrianne: [00:29:10] It's beautiful.

Hareem: [00:29:10] Is she doing better now?

Olivia: [00:29:12] Yeah, she's much better. She had it for, you know, a few weeks and she's much better now. So thanks for asking.

Adrianne: [00:29:17] Yeah. Um, okay. This is going to be a hard pivot from that, but if you could instantly become an expert in something, what would it be?

Olivia: [00:29:24] These are hard questions. Um, I feel like it would be something super random, like some kind of music or we'd have to be outside of academia. So yeah, I would say something about music.

Hareem: [00:29:36] That's great.

Olivia: [00:29:37] I don't, I don't know what, but something about music.

Hareem: [00:29:41] I would love to become an expert in a language without having to like put in all the work.

Olivia: [00:29:46] Yeah. Right. That'd be awesome.

Hareem: [00:29:48] Hard pivot again, but what's most underrated fruit in your opinion?

Olivia: [00:29:52] Oh, I like that one. I'm going to say papaya. I don't know if that's rated. I just don't feel like people talk about it very much. And I really love papaya.

Hareem: [00:30:01] I love papaya, too.

Olivia: [00:30:03] Yes. So good.

Adrianne: [00:30:04] All right. Pivoting again. What's your favorite book that you'd recommend to everyone?

Olivia: [00:30:09] Uh, Station 11. That's essentially the book that I recommend to everybody. It's a hard for me to describe, but check it out. Station 11. You can do, maybe you can.

Adrianne: [00:30:17] Yeah. Yeah. We'll we'll, we'll we'll link to it in the description.

Olivia: [00:30:20] It's a really cool book.

Hareem: [00:30:23] Last question. What's the best advice that you've ever gotten, you know, on a personal level or professional level.

Olivia: [00:30:30] Hmm. That is really, really good. My mom gave me so much advice growing up. I mean, we grew up with not a lot. Right. And so I would complain. She would say, you know, life is not fair. She would tell me that a lot. Like if it's not fair and as tough as it sounds, I feel like in so many ways it's helped me either persevere or also helped me to be really empathetic, I think, to other people too. And just realizing that like, even if you think you have it bad, like other people are really struggling and to always be aware of other people's struggles and just recognize it. Like everybody has their thing that they're dealing with and it's just part of life. It's just part of life that you have to deal with those sorts of things. But I think that even though it was a bit harsh, I think it made me realize that like, you're never going to have like perfect circumstances to have like this either life that you want or have this path, you know, ahead of you. And there's always going to be some obstacles you're going to have to deal with. And so I think that that prepared me a lot.

Hareem: [00:31:29] That's great advice. That's very nice.

Adrianne: [00:31:32] So, thank you so much, Olivia, for joining us today for this inaugural episode. We're so happy you could be here to talk about what the Center does and what you do, and hopefully get a few more students interested in what's happening around campus, because I know it's hard with the amount of information available online, all of the emails, all the websites, there's a lot happening. So hopefully some people have been able to identify some areas where they want to pursue something that they could do in their own lives. that advance environmental efforts. So thank you so much for joining us today. Coming up on our next episode, we're going to be talking with some of the other Community and Sustainability Coordinators about what we do on campus, how we got into these positions and what we're looking forward to in the year to come. So stay tuned for that.

Olivia: [00:32:17] Thanks so much for having me. This was a lot of fun and I'm really glad we're kicking it off this way.

Hareem: [00:32:21] Yeah. Thank you so much again, Olivia. And we'd also like to thank all of our staff, all the students at the Miller Worley Center, our wonderful editor, Claire Bidigare-Curtis, Sophia Hess who made our intro and outro music. If you'd like to learn more about the Miller Worley Center and connect with us on social media, check out the links in the episode description, where we'll also include links to what we discussed in today's episode. Thank you so much again for listening. We hope you'll join us again soon. Bye.


Episode 2: Meet the Team, Part 1

Episode 2. Meet the Team, Part 1

In this episode, Olivia Aguilar, Director of The Miller Worley Center for the Environment at the Miller Worley Center at Mount Holyoke College, talks with Community and Sustainability Coordinators (CSCs) Sophia Hess, Hareem Khan, Julia Talamo, and Isabelle Wohlin.

Olivia and the CSCs discuss the team’s social media strategy, the challenges of creating posts like infographics, and follower growth. The Community and Sustainability Coordinators expand on their interest in the environment and share tips for getting relevant internships and work experiences.

Episode 2: Transcript

Olivia: [00:00:00] The Miller Worley Center for the Environment humbly acknowledges that the land on which we learn, work and reside is the ancestral home of the Nonotuck and Pocumtuck neighbored by the ancestral lands of the Nipmuc and the Wampanoag to the East, the Mohican and Pequot to the South, the Mohican to the West and the Abenaki to the North, recognizing that the history of environmentalism has been fraught with injustices towards BIPOC communities. We work to honor and respect. The history of the original inhabitants of this beautiful land. As we also work to stewards.

Hello, welcome to the Miller Worley Center for the environment podcast. Our aim is to foster a more nuanced understanding of the complex environmental crises facing us and our planet as well as an increased awareness of the political, economic and social factors influencing them on this show. We'll explore issues ranging from sustainability to environmental justice, cover what Mount Holyoke college is doing to address our environmental impact and highlight interesting people, events, opportunities, and resources that are relevant to our work and mission.

Hi, and welcome to the podcast. My name is Olivia Aguilar. I use she /her pronouns and I'm the Leslie and Sarah Miller director of the Miller Worley Center for the environment. And I'm thrilled to have four of our community sustainability coordinators also known as the CSCs with us. And I'm really excited to introduce them to you all, to hear a little bit about what they do for the Miller Worley Center. So we will kick it off with Hareem.

Hareem: [00:01:42] Hi everyone. Thanks Olivia for having us. So I am Hareem. I am a junior at Mount Holyoke, majoring in Economics. I use she/her pronouns. I was born and raised in Pakistan. I'm one of the CSCs with Julia, Sophia and Isabelle. One thing that I've learned the hard way is to not plan everything in advance. Because I was the kind of a person who would obsessively plan everything for the next 10 years because that gave me a sense of comfort, knowing that I knew where I wanted to be. But now I'm beginning to realize that there are so many factors beyond your control that you can do nothing about and they can change your life in a second. So it's good to plan to an extent. But it's also good to have an open-minded . When you have an open mind, I think there are so many opportunities that come your way that you actually, you know, get to see. And you think about it as opposed to when you have an open mind when you're so focused on one thing that you don't think about anything else.

Olivia: [00:02:39] Yeah, I love that and that is so important for us, especially with the pandemic and COVID right. And having to really learn from that. So that's awesome. Thank you. Isabelle, I think you're up.

Isabelle: [00:02:50] Yes. Hi everyone. I'm Isabelle. I'm a senior now. I use she/her pronouns and I am an environmental studies major and statistics minor. And I am a CSC. One thing I guess, that I learned the hard way, which is more practical, I guess. In like a tangible sense is to not clean up sugar with water because it gets more sticky. Cause I spilled a bunch of vanilla sugar on the floor in our kitchen and it was there for weeks. So that's probably the first thing that came to mind.

Olivia: [00:03:18] That's great. I love it. Yes. Those lessons are just as important, right? So good to note. Maybe somebody will learn from that. Up next Julia.

Julia: [00:03:26] Hi, my name is Julia. I use she/her pronouns, I'm environmental and geography major, and I'm also a community and sustainability coordinator for the Miller Worley Center. Something that I learned the hard way for me personally, is when having a debate to challenge the idea, not the person.

Olivia: [00:03:44] Yeah, that's a good lesson for sure. Thanks, Julia. Sophia?

Sophia:[00:03:49] Hi, my name is Sophia Hess. I use she and they pronouns. I'm currently a junior at Mount Holyoke college where I'm double majoring in environmental studies and art studio. And I do social media as well as events scheduling and reaching out to other organizations on campus for the Miller Worley specifically. And one lesson that I learned the hard way is that it's better to say no authentically than saying yes inauthentically, because that comes in by two, in the, but later when you realized that you didn't actually want to do something, you don't actually have the capacity to do something. And so just being clear about your boundaries upfront is way better than trying to please everybody and saying yes all.

Olivia: [00:04:30] Yes. I see a bunch of heads nodding. That is so important, really good lesson. And if you are already learning it, that is great because that is not something you want to learn later, for sure. Awesome. Okay. So we've kicked it off and everybody's been able to say hi, and again, I'm thrilled that you all are here. And so the idea for today's podcast, as you all know, cause you helped develop it was really to talk a little bit about your role as social media coordinators for the Miller Worley Center and also other aspects that contribute to your role as community sustainability coordinators. So the first question I want to ask and we can sort of do a round Robin and we'll start again with Hareem. What drew you into the environmental field broadly? So, you know, another way to ask this is what made you interested at all in looking at the Miller Worley Center for the environment?

Hareem: [00:05:20] Yeah. So I think I have a bit of a non-traditional story because I'm not an environmental science major. I'm an economics major, really interested in finance and banking. And I actually got interested in sustainability when I was doing a very finance and economics type internship at a bank where my team was advising renewable companies, companies that were developing solar power in rural villages in Pakistan. And I was like, Oh wow. this is great. This is so important. And I had heard about corporate social responsibility and all of that, but I realized that I wasn't very educated about environmental issues or how do environmental issues interact and intersect with corporate practices. So I started educating myself about that a little bit, and I wanted to learn a bit more about what companies were doing, what organizations were doing, what schools like Mount Holyoke were doing to create more sustainable practices, contribute to a cleaner environment. And I had been coming to Miller Worley events for a lot of years. I had interacted with some of the staff andI realized that the best way to really educate myself a bit more about sustainability and environmental issues would be to get involved in the Center. So I started working at Miller Worley like a year ago, and it's been a great experience, I would say.

Olivia: [00:06:35] Awesome. That is great to hear. I love that story. Isabelle, do you want to jump in?

Isabelle: [00:06:40] Sure, I have a very, I guess, traditional story in the sense where I took a class in high school about environmental studies actually, and was really interested in the systems, basically that interact together to create the environment in which we live, which I think is something that we don't often think about and talk about. And so super interesting to hear that in an environmental aspect, and that can be applied in so many other fields. So that was the main thing that piqued my interest and then learning more about it. You know, the role that we have as humans in society and how we can actually make an impact if we can kind of pick some systems or reduce a small amount of X, Y, and Z, that's going into that system can really make an impact. Overall. So just learning about that and knowing that I could do something was something that piqued my interest and made me continue and pursue an environmental career.

Olivia: [00:07:30] Cool, thanks. Julia ,do you want to tell us about what drew you into either into the environmental field? Because it is one of your majors or into working for the Miller worley Center?

Julia: [00:07:41] Yeah, so actually going into Mount Holyoke, I was interested in public health and so I took a class that was called environmental and public health, which dove into how our environment affects human health in general. And I really got interested in how it intersects with climate justice and environmental justice. And then after being with Dr. Descida Taylor. I got more into, how can I learn more about these topics? And then I learned that the Miller Worley Center was doing different projects , gatherings and you sit in engagement on food justice and different things like that. So that's how I came across the Center and how I began to begin my engagement with the work that the center is doing. So that's kind of my story and how I got in.

Olivia: [00:08:27] Cool. So your entryway was a bit more around social justice issues.

Julia: [00:08:31] Yeah. And, and the intersections with human health that exists within the environmental field.

Olivia: [00:08:37] Awesome. Thanks, Julia. Sophia, what about you?

Sophia: [00:08:41] I feel like I've been quote unquote into environmental issues for a large majority of my life. I had the privilege of going to a progressive elementary school where they were really into the Wild and pond, even though it was located in California and kind of nature philosophy. The reconnecting with nature. So I got a lot of education about global warming from a very young age, about endangered animals, which I think really set me out on what started off as a traditional nature conservation path. But as I got older, I started to notice the inequalities within , especially framing it from a very like Western white scientists go into the global South and tell people how to run their environments, which didn't sit right with me. And so it was only when I got to college and was able to learn about more local led community led conservation efforts that I felt that was at the intersection of the social justice issues and environmental nature, conservation issues where I really want to be in right now, learning a lot about indigenous land stewardship and what we can learn from indigenous people regarding nature conservation.

Olivia: [00:09:48] Very cool. I think the cool thing about hearing all these answers is that you each have something very different that brought you to either the field or the Center, which is really great to hear. And I think one of the things that we really try to do at the Miller Worley Center is to try and reach a broad audience. So finding those pathways to meet other people where they're at is really an exciting piece of that journey for me. Okay. My next question for you all is two parts. First part is what is your role as a community sustainability coordinator? Because we do have six of you. And then how have you been able to bring your own interests and skills into the work that you do for the Miller Worley Center?

Hareem: [00:10:30] Something that's really exciting about working at Miller Worley is that there's always something new to work on and projects keep changing all the time. Currently, what I'm working on is like I've been doing a lot of data-driven work with Isabelle and Raghu and Jordan. And of course, like data is very important in the field that we work in. So collecting data about how Mount Holyoke has been doing where sustainability is concerned. Do we have classes where there is a sustainability component. So I've been doing a lot of those. And that's something that I really enjoy because of my quantitative background. Apart from that, we all work on social media and I don't do a lot of content development. That's more like Isabelle, Julia and Sophia, but I love discussing what is it that we can put on our social media to reach a broader audience, particularly because right now, so many people are studying from their homes. So kind of being able to incorporate that. You know, and we recognize that that's different from being on campus or coming up with exciting things that people can relate to, even as they're not on campus doing that. And of course, I think something that we're very focused on our community efforts, diversity and inclusion. So another thing that we do is that we collaborate with a lot of other organizations and offices on campus, whether it's other student organizations, whether it's the student life office and the McCulloch center for international students. In the past, we've hosted like speakers, which I have loved all those speaker sessions and all of you should attend them if you have the time and I mean, of course, boom is coming up, which is pretty exciting.

Olivia: [00:12:05] Great. Thanks. Isabelle, how about you? What is your role as a community sustainability coordinator? And then how have you been able to bring your interest and skills into that work?

Isabelle: [00:12:15] Yeah. So as part of the social media component, I've created the sustainability tips, which got, I believe every Sunday, which is fun just to put people's mind onto something small that they can be doing individually they may not have thought of. and that you can do regardless of your situation, especially during these times. And I also have previously worked on the green work place program, which is our effort basically to reach out to the faculty and staff that are on campus because a lot of focus is on students. And it's really important to broaden that perspective. So talking to them, seeing what they're looking for from the Center and how we can support them in what they're doing in their own workplaces. And that's been really fantastic just to work with different communities that I may not have otherwise been in contact with, and meet a lot of new people along the way. And so I've enjoyed being able to kind of have one thing that's just for me to work on, which is really fun to figure out my ideas and put those into practice and actually make that difference where it's not super siloed. So that's probably the main thing that I've been working on. And my interests are in sustainability, both in higher education as well as in the corporate sector. So it, it fits pretty well in.

Olivia: [00:13:25] Yeah, that's awesome. Julia, do you want to jump in and tell us about your role as a community sustainability coordinator and then also any interest in skills you've been able to bring to that work?

Julia: [00:13:35] Yeah, so I'm on the social media team and I am mainly in charged of two things. I'm in charged of the Tuesday posts, which are the environmental justice lessons and also to increase engagement and increase the following. So I on my own I am interested in social media. I am very much involved in numbers and increasing followers and things like that. So I try to set a goal for each semester of like how many followers I want the account to reach, and then working on engagement and having followers and alumnis and new students and prospective students follow our page. And then the environmental justice lessons. It started out because I wanted to read more about environmental justice. I wanted to read more authors I didn't get to read in class. And so I was like, this is a perfect way for me to be able to read the authors that I want to read and make a job out of it. So I based the Tuesday posts on readings on authors that I didn't get to read in class or a friend will be, Hey, this is a really good reading. And that's how I make my Tuesday posts. Besides those things sometimes I have students reach out to me and ask what the center does or what they can do for them. Before I used to have listening sessions with cultural groups and that was really informational. So it's really multifaceted, but for social media, I focus on those two things.

Olivia: [00:14:58] Yeah. That's awesome. So I think what everybody is saying, and Sophia, I'm going to get you here too in a minute is sort of like being an ambassador about like, around certain like content material for the Miller Worley Center. And so, Julia, I know you do like a lot of that environmental justice stuff, and that's really cool that that is something You both want to study and then you can relay that information back out to the audience for us, which is great. And also, yes. Shout out to how many new followers we have on social media.That's Great. And we can talk about like, maybe if we have a goal, a number goal here in a minute, but I'll jump to Sophia. Sophia, tell us about your role as a community sustainability coordinator and any interest and skills that you have been able to bring to your work.

Sophia: [00:15:37] Well, I do a lot of things

Olivia: [00:15:40] that is true

Sophia: [00:15:42] but if I had to sum up, I think that it's mainly outreach to students and outreach to people who aren't currently involved in the Center. And that takes Variety of forms. Before the pandemic, Julia and I did a lot of outreach with student groups on campus, as well as hosting events, specifically for BIPOC students to help them get environmental careers. Since everything's remote, that's really taken a different turn as it's hard to be on zoom all day. So that's not really what we're trying to do. We don't want to have too much excessive virtual programming. So we have focused more on the social media, which is a more passive way to interact with students, but also less than the demanding of students and their time. In terms of my own interest in skills, I'm also an art major. So that has really slipped me into this defacto role of graphic designer for the Miller Worley, which I really do love. And not just because I enjoy making things aesthetically engaging, but because I think it's really important that these are messages that are easy to understand, and that will be read by lots of people from lots of different backgrounds. Some of the literature for environmental studies or a lot of parts of academia can be really inaccessible. They use language that is taught only in higher education. You know, that a certain class barriers to understanding concepts. And I think social media is a good tool to push back against that a little bit and try to bring this education. Into an open access, public resource type of space, which is what I personally try to do with my graphic designs. And it's really not color palette choices at this point, you know, we've got a brand. So what I'm doing when I'm designing these slides is: what information needs to be bolded to jump out what are the main points? Is there a word that I can replace that maybe is too jargony and won't be understood by some types of people? Does this need to have more texts in one side or is that too overwhelming? Should I split it up into smaller pieces so that people don't get overwhelmed? Because a lot of these topics, I work specifically in the environmental justice posts, they get heavy. It's about really sensitive topics. And so figuring out how to spatially communicate those themes in a way that's both respectful of these issues, but also informative and not washing them down to be palatable and fun is like a very tense line to hold that I feel that I'm always balancing as the person who puts together the final graphic that eventually gets seen by the public.

Olivia: [00:18:16] Yeah. That is really cool to hear how you frame the work that you're doing, like on so many levels. But first, you know, one of the things I've been studying recently is the way that social media in many platforms, specifically Twitter, but also Instagram and Facebook has been a place to Sophia you said pushback, but like a place for activism in a way, and to push back against mainstream ideas of I'm looking specifically at environmentalism. So pushing back at mainstream ideas of who's involved in environmental ism and what it means to be an environmentalist. But I do think there's a lot of power in social media. And so it's really great to hear how all of you are contributing and also how you are bringing your own skillset to that work. And I think the other really cool thing that I'm seeing as how much of a team it requires, like in terms of contributing information and then creating the graphic and then tweaking language, and then working on like getting more followers and users and that sort of thing. So I think that is another really cool piece about what the community sustainability coordinators do in terms of really having to work as a team. And since we've done virtually, I think you've had to even do that more with figuring out, like, how do we work together as a group when we're never together in the same room anymore, you know? And we're all only on either zoom or on a call, like once every few weeks or once a month or something. So that has been really cool to see how you have all decided to do that as well. Okay. So I'm going to jump into a question about infographics. So I'll let anybody jump in on this and I might even combine it too with your goal. Some of you talked about your goal already as a social media content creator, but if you hadn't yet, and you want to answer that part as well, I want to sort of ask a little bit about how do you choose the information you want to share or the information you want to admit, because that can be difficult to determine. And part of that too, is like, you know, what's your goal with the information you're sharing. So I'll let anybody jump in.

Isabelle: [00:20:21] This is definitely something I think about because when I'm doing the sustainability tips, I want to keep them short, but not too short that someone would just brush them off and say," Oh, I can't do that". Or "I don't want to do that." It's definitely very tricky with infographics because some people won't read the caption. And so you kind of have to get everything across, just within an image, with a short piece of text. And I think when trying to figure out what to say, basically, I try to do some research on what's accessible to most of the population, whether you're living in you know, like I'm living in my bedroom or you're living in a dorm room or some other living situation. And so making sure that everybody can do that in the space that they're living is super important because you don't want it to feel inaccessible to someone or someone feel bad that they can't do something. So I think that's the biggest thing that I have learned while doing it. And I had my mom review what I am submitting and she's sometimes like, "what are you even mean?" And I realized, "Oh, well, I guess I'm on the younger side. "And so she doesn't really understand that and so trying to bridge that gap and thinking about our audience, being both alums , Mount Holyoke community members, as well as students, it's not just for students. So it's definitely tricky, but it's definitely doable. And I think so far we've done a really good job at doing that.

Hareem: [00:21:36] To add on that. I mean, Isabelle, you made some really great points and that's something that I really appreciate about our content is that our content is not super Mount Holyoke students specific, you know, like it would only apply to you if you go to college at Mount Holyoke currently. We have so many followers on like our Facebook and Instagram, both who are Mount Holyoke alumni, or who are like five college students or students from other you know, even like beyond the five colleges or people in academia, or like, you know, small businesses. And I think like we have something for everyone and particularly things like, you know, sustainability tips. They're so straight forward, like something as small as, you know, a very small lifestyle change that you can makethat can help create a cleaner environment. Like having a plant or, you know, taking books out from the library as opposed to buying books and things like that, as opposed to really grand things that you need to put a lot of thought and effort and resources in. And that's just something that I really appreciate about some of the content that Isabelle creates on Sundays and what Julia and Sophia are creating.

Isabelle: [00:22:43] Thank you,

Julia: [00:22:44] For me making the content is only worth it,if people see it and I want as many people to see it as possible. I want as many clicks, as many likes, as many swipes, like I want it all. So I have a goal. Ideally, I try to get at least a hundred new followers every two weeks. And I have been doing that so far. So that's my goal as like content creators having as many people see it and I, I always find new, new niches within Mount Holyoke, like Mount Holyoke Boston alums alums and Mount Holyoke New York alums. And I follow everyone on that page and then they'll follow me back. So that's kind of like how I do my work, like finding alums, finding prospective students or different clubs and like, Following them. They know our page exists and then more likely than not, they'll follow us back. And then that's how we get a larger engagement, which for me makes making the content worth creating. And then for environmental justice lessons, I don't really have a specific goal with the post except to cause I don't want to say teach because I don't want to teach nobody, but share, I guess, share what I learned that I thought was interesting and then share that with whoever decided to follow our page. So I guess that's my goal. Every time I create something or I do something on the page.

Olivia: [00:24:01] Thanks Julia!

Sophia: [00:24:02] I just want to talk about infographic culture for a little bit, because I think the two forces that I see was one, most of the world going online in higher education socially and academically is like putting a lot more emphasis. I personally am spending way more time on screens. I don't know about you guys, but I think maybe similar than before and social media has been one of those constant things that was around before the pandemic and is around after the pandemic, coupled with this kind of I don't know how to characterize the black lives matter protests of June, 2020, but I see it as a big cultural shift in terms of people paying attention to social justice issues and the broad umbrella that that is. And within that, there's also fake information going around and it's being widely shared, but there's also good information that's going around and being widely shared. And so this has made infographics as a whole kind of a tricky place to inhabit because it's going against this quote , unquote, reputable sources that we're talking academia, which, you know, the Miller Worley page we always cite everywhere we get our information, usually from Julia's readings and also research papers, but it also enables people to share their lived experiences in a platform that is welcoming of that. And that wasn't possible before in Western academia that has traditionally like shut a lot of voices out. So you kind of have this double-sided coin with infographics. And again with Isabelle saying they're being so short, environmentalism is so complex. It's so challenging to figure out what to keep and what not to keep and what will engage the public. And what's too much, but I just wanted to speak a little bit on how I see infographics as someone who creates them as both being good, but also generally approachable a little bit of caution because there's a lot of variety in the ones that are going around nowadays.

Olivia: [00:26:06] Yeah. I think the cool thing that I'm hearing from you all, and by the way, I know this to an extent, but I'm really learning it in this podcast is how much goes into our social media, that's just beyond like a post and the amount of thought that goes into the language being used, the length of text and which text is highlighted and what imagery is going to go with the text. And how are you reaching your audience. And Julia, it's so cool to learn that you have these goals. I never knew that. So that's really great to hear that you have follower goals. And I was also wondering like, how does she accomplish this. And now I'm hearing that it's like through sort of tagging and following people, which is really cool, but even so, like, what are we doing in terms of tagging on our post? And what's the hashtag? I've actually a paper I've been recently reading this week was on hashtag activism. And how hashtags are actually another form of a narrative and how that narrative can be activism too. So, but I think that what we see is that we go through and we see an Instagram page and we don't really see a think of all of the things that are going into that one image on Instagram. And there's quite a lot that's going into it. Right. So I think that's all really cool. And I would just say, Julia, I don't know what you're so 200, did you say a week or a month?

Julia: [00:27:24] A hundred followers every two weeks.

Olivia: [00:27:25] A hundred every two weeks. Okay. So I'm trying to figure out how long that would take for us to get to 2000. Do you have a, I think I was thinking it'd be fun to say, like by earth day we have 2000 followers.

Julia: [00:27:37] I mean, I don't know about Earth Day, but definitely by the end of the semester.

Olivia: [00:27:41] hahah okay Earth Day's a little too much pressure, we could maybe do like a push, like the week before, like follow us for earth day or something and yeah. We'll see, but I love that. Okay. So I think my last question for everybody, and then we'll try to get to a couple of lightning round questions, but my last question for everybody, and again, whoever feels like they want to respond to this can, and if you don't have something, that's fine. But beyond your work as a community sustainability coordinator, what research or maybe internship experiences have you had, and what tips do you maybe have for people that are trying to get a similar experience to the one that you're talking about today?

Hareem: [00:28:21] So I'm like very lucky that I've had quite a lot of holistic experiences. Like obviously I've mentioned like some of my finance internships earlier this semester, for example, I'm working at a venture capital firm, which invests in female founded and sustainable companies. So that's been very exciting and I have gotten the opportunity to interact with all of these amazing founders who are leading these very innovative companies. Last semester, I worked at a human rights law firm, which was great as well. And it was actually with the Wellesley alum. On campus, I am involved in like the career development center if you ever want to come and get your resume reviewed. In the office of student involvement, of course, Miller Worley, the Pakistani student organization. So I think like a big advantage of being a liberal arts student is that the education is so holistic that you get to have all these different experiences across different sectors and industries. And I think my advice would be to, don't be afraid to reach out to people. And like a lot of times, most of us, we of course like, you know, Mount Holyoke students are smart and they can do things on their own. That's great. But there's always someone who's been through what you're going through right now. And they have really great advice to offer. So I love reaching out to like Mount Holyoke alums and even like five college alums , you know, who, who are in professions, where I see myself or even like my friends in my class, I talk to them about like interview advice or resume reviews, things like that because you know how they say it takes a village and it truly does. So don't be afraid to reach out, like put yourself out there. I know it's hard, but don't be afraid to get advice from people.

Sophia: [00:30:02] I'll just jump in here. Shout out Julio, because Julio helped me get my internship, a fellowship program with the university of Washington, with the Doris Duke conservation scholars program, because she also did that program, but at the university of Michigan. So again, just really talking to everybody, you know, and if you have connections, sharing them with other people to just help build that network. I haven't started my program yet because I deferred due to the pandemic, but I am really excited to start that to summer.

Isabelle: [00:30:35] That last piece is huge. I know I've definitely looked over a number of my teammates resumes just to say, this is what has worked for me, because it really is challenging.

You may go to the CDC, our career development center and get one opinion. And then you talk to someone who maybe is working in a field that you want to get into, and they say completely different thing. So having that ground experience can be super valuable. I know this past summer I worked at a utility company actually, which is not something that I had ever expected to say, but I basically just started applying everywhere that I thought, okay, maybe I could do this and I've gone and driven all the way an hour and 15 minutes from school to go to Boston, to do an interview and not gotten a response or anything back from them. So just not taking that to heart is probably the biggest thing that I would say . It's really challenging because I probably submitted over a hundred applications in two years with one or two responses in total, three responses, I think, and one interview that led to nothing. So it will happen and it just matters how you, how you react to that. And just continue on it sucks. But it's going to happen and you just have to live through it.

Julia: [00:31:46] So I have had multiple experiences, but I guess one of my first ones happened through lynk funding . So I really wanted to get link funding, but again, I didn't want to go through applying. On application portal. So how I found my internship was messaging professionals directly on LinkedIn, not Mount Holyoke alums, just random people I wanted to work with because I did it by country actually. So I really wanted to go to Uruguay , which is a country in South America. So I started messaging on Linkedin professionals who worked in the environmental field in Uruguay , and everyone got back to me and everyone said yes, but I had already accepted the offer from the first person I had contacted. And he was a professional working for the United nations on this project called partnership fraction on green economy. And it was super cool. I was able to spend like, I want to say maybe eight weeks in Uruguay and I got Lynk funding for it. And honestly, the most surprising thing was how willing everyone was to have me shadow them or work for their program. And then I have also been with the Doris Duke conservation scholars program for two years, doing research with landscape architecture and food justice with Dr. Dorceta Taylor who's now at Yale, and I'm going back with her for a third summer, my third and final summer with the Doris Duke program. I'm going back as an alumni assistant because I'm technically an alumni of the program. And to me, those two different experiences, both with the Doris Duke program and with the partnership fraction on green economy have been more than what I could've ever expected for internship experiences. So I'm quite content with what I got from my undergrad experience.

Olivia: [00:33:39] Yeah. I think that everybody has experiences to sound amazing, actually. So that's pretty cool. I think the lynk funding I think is probably really valuable for almost all of you and that's a great resource that we have, but I agree. I think Isabelle , you know, not feeling bothered by like not hearing back from people and just persisting and keeping going, and then, you know, just really being excited and appreciative of the opportunities that we do have and like putting them together and making, you know, making something out of them, I think is awesome to hear how you all have done that.

Okay. Lightning round session. Woo. Get excited. I am going to now ask you a sort of fun question. I might switch things up so that I can get a little freshness and it'll be a little bit more spontaneous your, your answer. So I don't know that I'm going to go in order. I think I'm going to go, I'll call somebody and ask you to answer one of these questions that we have here. So Hareem, I'm going to start with you. What's one thing you're excited for coming up in 2021?

Hareem: [00:34:42] 2021. So a lot of things, but my family's visiting the US over the summer. They will visit me in New York. I'm super excited about that.

Olivia: [00:34:50] That's a good one that, okay. That wasn't hard, right? That was like a big thing happening. Okay, cool. Sophia, I'm gonna ask you something, not on this list. If you could recommend one book to anybody. I think this is what I was asked the other week. If you could recommend one book to anybody, what would it be?

Sophia: [00:35:06] There's one that comes to mind is "Braiding Sweetgrass" by Robin Wall kimmer. I am reading it right now. It's really great.

Olivia: [00:35:12] Yes, really good. I feel like a lot of students are reading that right now. I don't know if there's a class that's teaching it or if it just happens to be like the book that people are reading,

Sophia: [00:35:20] I'm like not to to be a cliche, but braiding Sweetgrass.

Olivia: [00:35:24] I mean, it's good. It's really good. So that's awesome. Okay. Julia, what is the most underrated fruit?

Julia: [00:35:30] Grapes

Olivia: [00:35:33] hahaha

Julia: [00:35:33] People don't appreciate grapes, especially if you freeze them and then you eat them like semi frozen. It's like doesn't even taste like fruit. It tastes like a dessert.

Olivia: [00:35:44] Oh, yum. Okay. Yeah.

Hareem: [00:35:46] I've never done that.

Olivia: [00:35:47] Yeah I've never done that either. Goals I'll go and freeze the grapes. That's a good one though. Yeah, I think you're right. Grapes are probably underrated. I would not think of them.

Julia: [00:35:58] Yeah

Olivia: [00:35:58] Okay. Isabelle, you could teach one subject in school, what would it be?

Isabelle: [00:36:02] Well, it's statistics. I know I'm crazy for saying that. My mom's like why, you know, I hate statistics, but no, I think it's really empowering when people can like read a paper or something that they never understood before, just because they understand where the data comes from.

Olivia: [00:36:18] Ha, you're getting a thumbs up from Hareem. So you are not the only one who thinks that. I would not teach statistics. That's that's all right. Okay, I'm going to ask everybody one more question. I thought this was a fun question. I'll go back with actually, we'll start with you Isabelle. Since we just ended up seeing if you could have lunch with one person living or dead, who would it be?

Isabelle: [00:36:38] Well, Probably Barack Obama.

Olivia: [00:36:40] Oh, cool. All right. Okay. We'll jump to Sophia. If you could have lunch with one person living or dead, who would it be?

Sophia: [00:36:49] The first person that came to mind was Martine Gutierrez who's an artist whose work I absolutely adore. And I got to have dinner with her once at the cultural centers. And I'd love to talk to her more.

Olivia: [00:37:01] oh, that's a good one. All right. I like that. By the way, this question took me forever to answer. So I'm giving you a little bit of time. Hareem, what's your response lunch with the person?

Hareem: [00:37:10] Yeah, I would say William Shakespeare, because I'm the biggest Shakespeare nerd in the world. Like I've read almost every single thing that he's written like multiple times. And I'm really intrigued by some of his ideas.

Olivia: [00:37:21] Oh, I love that. What I love is that I'm learning a little bit about each of you from these things. So that's really cool. And Julia last but not least. If you could have lunch with somebody living or dead, who would it be?

Julia: [00:37:31] Okay. So I believe that, you know, we all have like past lives. So I would like to have lunch with whoever one of my past lives person was.

Olivia: [00:37:45] Yeah. That's pretty amazing. I mean, do you have any idea who a past life, like what a past life was for you?

Julia: [00:37:51] I don't know, but I would just want to know, like, was I a good person? Was I a bad person? Like what did I do for a living? Just like, I would like to know who I was in a past life.

Olivia: [00:38:01] That is really fascinating. I'm like really fascinated by this because I think what's interesting is you assume you're a person, like, could you have been something else?

Julia: [00:38:09] Yeah, no. I mean, if I was like an animal that would, you know, I would still have lunch with them, you know, I could take them, but preferably a past life person.

Olivia: [00:38:23] Okay. That is awesome. I love it. Y'all had really great answers. Like I said, these questions really threw me off guard, so I was struggling, but. It's good to hear from you all your responses. Because as I said, we get to learn a little bit about each of you and your personalities and your interest and your likes. And so, yeah, I think we're going to wrap up our conversation there. It's been really exciting to hear about how you are contributing to the Miller Worley Center as community and sustainability coordinators and specifically as social media content creators. And I think also just really exciting to hear how much thought and how much work goes into a post. Like I said, that might seem really simple and is actually quite complex. And so thanks so much for taking the time to sit and chat with us and introduce yourselves to the broader community. So I'm psyched. I'm excited about this episode and I'm excited about the next episode, which we'll be talking to the rest of the community and sustainability coordinators, Adrienne Baxter, and Adrianne Wu along with Genesis Lara Granados, the campus living lab assistant. And that will be part two of our series on meet the Miller Worley Center student team. So two parts series. This was part one, the next one we'll meet the rest of the crew. And then I also just want to do a thanks again to each of you. Sophia Hess, Hareem Khan, Julia Talamo, Isabelle , and all of the other staff and students at the Miller Worley Center for the environment. Also want to thank our editor, Claire Bidigare- Curtis. Again, Sophia who made our intro. Oh, Sophie, I didn't talk about your making our intro and outro music that you also contributed to that as well. And then Adrianne Wu, who made our podcast artwork. So thanks everybody. And to learn more about the Miller Worley Center for the environment and connect with us on social media, please check out the links in the episode description. Thank you for listening and we hope you'll join us again soon.