In high school, I was invited to enroll in a pilot class called Green Scholars. This course introduced me to the concept of innovation but mainly focused on the environmental conservation aspect of sustainability. Still, I loved this class and wanted to learn more about sustainability in college which led me to taking SUST 401 my first semester at UNH. This class gave me a better understanding of how sustainability bleeds into every other aspect of life, which can be reduced to the triple bottom line. My professor, Vanessa Levesque, took the ten or so people in that class--- who already cared about the planet--- and taught us how to sustain it through applying an equity lens.
Our class spent a great deal of time discussing the social impacts of different conservation movements and economic events. Beyond the triple bottom line, Vanessa encouraged us to use a systems-thinking approach when evaluating problems. She helped us draw connections and look at the bigger picture in order to streamline decision-making. We used the triple bottom line and systems-thinking to analyze the three sustainable initiatives on campus we toured: 1) the UNH Cogeneration Plant, 2) the Stormwater Center, and 3) the aquaponics greenhouse.
She also pushed us to consider these concepts in our Personal Action Projects. At this point in my life, I had already made a great deal of conscious decisions toward living a more sustainable lifestyle and sought to challenge myself with this assignment. I chose to audit the mail my family received for a month and seek to reduce that waste. In that one month, my house received about 150 pieces of mail--- of which 70% was junk and/or unsolicited mail. While auditing this mail, I spent time unsubscribing our address from several of these mailing lists. Three years later and I continue to see the impacts of this project on the days we receive no mail.
SUST 401 helped me realize how passionate I was about sustainability and also social equity. About a week into the course I learned about the Sustainability Dual Major and tried to declare it. Unfortunately, as a first-semester student, I did not have a GPA on record yet and was rejected from the program. I declared the SDM the day my GPA was posted.