Madi Sundlof '16

What were your plans coming into college and how have they evolved since?

I originally started college with a bio-chem major on a pre med track.  Although I have changed my major three times since then, it has been a journey to finding what I truly love!

Why did you choose to study environmental studies?

During my spring semester freshman year, I took the intro environmental studies class with Jean Lavigne.  Despite my complete lack of interest in anything to do with sustainability, I needed the natural science credit.  By the end of the second week, I had learned more than I had in most of my other classes combined.  It was a whole new world of exploring ideas and concepts that I had never been introduced to before, and I loved it.  I found myself reading extra material outside of class and spending most of my time thinking about these eye-opening lessons.  After that, I was hooked.  I love environmental studies because it is not one topic, but a study of how everything fits together.  We learn about science, politics, economics, ethics, religion, culture and everything in between in all of the classes.  I feel like the classes and professor are not only preparing me to get a job and make a positive impact, but also a lifestyle of living in a sustainable and conscious way.

Have you participated in any study abroad, ABE, or off campus learning experiences? How were they beneficial to the your major?

I have not done a trip through the school, but I did take a semester off to participate in a six-month mission trip across three countries in Africa.  During my time there, it was amazing how relevant all of my environmental education was to the projects we were working on.  In South Africa we volunteered in a community garden and taught children how to work with the earth.  In Lesotho we worked alongside farmers, teaching sustainable growing methods to prevent runoff and loss of topsoil in their fields.  We were shepherds and watched how the sheep altered the earth. In Namibia, I learned about lack of water and purification. Everywhere I turned, my education was an added strength and attribute to the experience at hand.

What sort of extra-curricular activities are you involved in?

I am currently the president of Culinary Task Force, I run the Eco-Rep program at CSB, I am a member of Sustainability Alliance and I work at the CSB Office of Sustainability as a Program Coordinator.

Please describe your internship experience.

My internship was an amazing learning experience.  I worked at Kraus-Anderson Construction and the U.S Green Building Council as a dual internship.  I was Kraus-Anderson's first ever sustainability intern and I don't think either party knew completely what they were doing, but I found my niche pretty quickly.  Ultimately, I started a composting program at two office locations, which to date has diverted over 6 tons of waste from landfills.  I also edited their sustainability plan, updated their Energy Star data, worked on two LEED certifications, led a green team, and hosted multiple educational events.  Throughout the whole experience I was constantly learning, asking questions, and working hard to leave a positive mark on the company.

Do you have any advice for current or future environmental studies majors? 

I think my biggest advice is to not get lost in all of the bad news.  It's hard to take classes where we learn about the damage that humans are doing to the planet and not get overwhelmed. Ultimately, all of these classes give us the tools to combat these negative issues and truly make an impact in the habits and patterns of communities.  Sustainability Workshop is a great opportunity to take all that you have learned and really put it into action. 

Also, ask as many questions as you can now.  As graduation looms, I've realized that soon I won't be surrounded by such an abundance of knowledge everyday.  Take advantage of it! Talk to professors after class and learn as much as you can from them.  They know their stuff.

What are your plans and goals for the future?

Goal wise, all I know if that I want to be happy and do what I love everyday.  I want to travel, continue learning, and live somewhere with less snow.

As for a plan, no clue.  I'll figure it out as I go!

If you could be any animal, what would you be and where would you live?

I would be an immortal jellyfish chilling in the Mediterranean Sea.  Yes, it's real.  Go google it!