Betsy Ruckman '23 (she/her/hers)

Where do you call home?

Monticello, Illinois

What are your major(s) and minor(s)?

Environmental Studies 

What is your favorite outdoor activity?

I've been climbing trees since I was born, but I haven't done it in a while...

Why did you decide to major in Environmental Studies?

I came in pre-med! I took ENVR 150 and saw the impact and ripple effect my individual actions could cause, so I switched to Environmental Studies.

What environmental issue are you most passionate about?

This is cheating because it's such a broad question but FOOD! Did you know that we wasted 150 POUNDS of food in a single lunch period when the Sustainability Office audited the Reef last year? Or that one quarter-pound burger is the equivalent of 27 showers' worth of water? Your diet is one of your most powerful tools for change, since it's also such a part of our cultural and social lives.

What is your favorite Environmental Studies class and why?

My ENVR 150 class was literally life-changing. I liked the "extra credit" challenges that pushed me to try eating plant-based, reduce my waste, and put myself in positions that disrupted the way I thought about the world. I still pick up Nature of College and read it occasionally, because that's a great book for critically and thoughtfully examining your environment.

What was the focus of your research for ENVR 320? What were your findings?

I studied what it really means for higher education to be RADICALLY and TRANSFORMATIVELY sustainable. I found that colleges and universities aren't all doing a very good job, but that with the right frameworks and motivated people it's possible to do something amazing.

What advice do you have for first year students and majors?

You are capable of way more than you think. Find ways to be curious about everything you learn, because you'll have to learn it regardless of if you're having fun or not. So have fun. Ask questions, get involved, do things you've never done, take time for yourself, and keep a journal so you can remember all the good times later!