Student Insight: A passion for helping communities with environmental concerns | MSUToday

Lauren Sawyer is a graduate in environmental studies and sustainable development at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. A 2022 CANR Alumni Association Scholarship RecipientSawyer plans to attend graduate school to obtain a master’s degree in public health after graduating in May 2023.

Growing up in St. Joseph, Michigan, I come from a predominantly affluent, white town. Just across the bridge from Benton Harbor, however, is a town that has faced significant conflict over lead levels contaminating its water since 2018. I’ve seen how Benton Harbor has remained resilient despite this challenge.

Environmental issues affect us all, but some more than others. This is why I chose to specialize in environmental studies and sustainabilityor ESS, in the Community Sustainability Department. Students like me examine resource use and allocation through the lens of community engagement, sustainability, and environmental justice.

I am inspired to learn more about environmental issues – especially in areas where voices have historically been ignored. The ESS major gave me experience on existing environmental problems, where they occur and how to combat them. The skills I learned through the major have equipped me to pursue future employment opportunities, as well as assess the state of our world’s most pressing environmental issues.

I am sure to take advantage of the opportunities available to me at MSU. I did an internship at MSU-Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning and Innovationan urban farm in Detroit that I wrote about the MSU extension in 2021, and the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club. On campus, I am a member of the Spartan Sierra Club, Student Sustainability Leadership Council, MSU Honors College, Bailey Hall Government, and the University Committee on Undergraduate Education.

Majoring in ESS can be daunting because it’s such a broad major. There isn’t a specific job or field of study that all ESS graduates enter after graduation, but for me it’s an exciting opportunity to try new things. There is no shortage of what we can do after studying at MSU.

Upon graduation, I plan to pursue a Masters in Public Health. I hope to work for an environmental consulting firm where I can help community members solve environmental issues that affect their lives.

In the long term, I hope to promote conservation and environmental policy at the federal level. With my time at MSU, I believe I will be able to accomplish just that.

This story was adapted from an article originally published on the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources website.

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