Dec ’15 Update
As promised, I plan to continue sending personal updates on a quarterly basis to ensure we stay in touch moving forward (if this is your first email update from me, it means that I only recently had the pleasure of meeting you!). Despite having met so many amazing and influential people over the course of my life, I have done a poor job at staying in contact with many of you, and these updates are meant to rekindle these relationships and maintain the conversations moving forward. These emails will by necessity be introductory, surface level, and generalized, as for many this will unfortunately be the first time we have talked in months. However, I would love to make them more personal on an individual level if you are so inclined.
Concurrently, I’d really love to hear how you are doing; to discover any changes in your life, new habits, novel interests, etc. That being said, please feel free to email me back as frequently (or infrequently) as you like.
Finally, please do not feel pressured to read this! I am fully aware how busy many of you are, and would not be offended in the least if you neglect to look these emails over. If you have updated your email or contact information please let me know so I can ensure my address book remains up to date.
My involvement with student organizations undoubtedly occupies the majority of my time. This year I am privileged to hold leadership positions with the following organizations: Divest DU Organizing Director, Undergraduate Student Government Sustainability Committee Co-Chair, Greenpeace DU President, DU Solar Vice President, Net Impact Director of Sustainability, Sustainability Council Undergraduate Representative, and Honors Council Undergraduate Representative. I feel immeasurably fortunate to be surrounded by amazingly dedicated and committed teams all working for positive social change, and find immense fulfillment and satisfaction in my work with each.
Of these organizations, I dedicate the majority of my time to Divest DU, a student group committed to urging the University of Denver to divest its endowment from fossil fuels. The premise of this movement is simple: that climate change is real, that it is caused by the anthropogenic combustion of fossil fuels, and that is is immoral for an institution with a mission of being a “great private university dedicated to the public good” to profit from climate catastrophe. Our campaign asks for the University to divest from the 200 fossil fuels companies with the largest fossil fuel reserves; the divestment campaign’s focus on the fossil fuel industry is rooted in the understanding that fossil fuel reserves this industry has already committed to burning is five times greater than the amount that can ‘safely’ be burned – this Rolling Stones article does a good job outlining the premise. Our campus’ campaign has evolved rapidly in recent months, where we finished the quarter with a meeting with the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Chair of the Board of Trustees Investment Committee to discuss divestment at the University of Denver.
Fall quarter at the University of Denver went very well. I was enrolled in three classes, Spanish 2001, Climate Science and Policy, and a placeholder for my thesis, and benefited from each immensely.
Early last year I developed an interest in pursing fluency in Spanish, and Spanish 2001 helped to bring me back up to speed with the language and provide the foundation for more intensive study to come. I plan on continuing my study of Spanish the remainder of senior year, and have aspirations of moving to Latin America after graduation in part to gain fluency in the language.
Climate Science and Policy was a great fit, as few other issues dominate my mental space more than climate change. This class in particular provided me a much stronger foundation into the hard science of climate change and how scientists have irrefutably demonstrated that the climate is changing do to anthropogenic causes. Deepening this understanding has already empowered me to more effectively engage and explain the science of climate change to those unsure about its legitimacy or functional mechanisms.
My thesis seeks to analyze the relationship between economic inequality and environmental quality at the international level; more specifically, if increased levels of economic inequality cause increased levels of environmental degradation. The research is coming along well, though has admittedly taken much more time than anticipated. The thesis combines my two greatest passions, social and environmental justice (injustice), and I have been thoroughly enjoying the process thus far. Hopefully I will have the paper finished in the coming months!
After student organizations, academics, and personal care (eating, sleeping, yoga, etc.), the rest of my time is allocated to civic engagement. I had the opportunity to participate and in some cases help plan a variety of demonstrations/protests since we last spoke, including a Greenpeace Protest at Rite Aide on Sept. 26 (due to Rite Aide’s sourcing of paper products from old growth forests), a Colorado Ivory Trade demonstration at the capital (to demonstrate our condemnation of Ivory Trade and our concern for the extinction of Rhinos and Elephants), a “Stop the Frack Attack March” on Oct. 5 (which coincided with the national “Stop the Frack Attack” conference held in Denver this year and ran from the State Capitol to the Governor’s home), the People’s Climate March Denver on Oct. 14 (which coincided with hundreds of other marches across the world to show world leaders the international support for an effective climate agreement in Paris), the GOP “Our Future, Our Choice” March on Oct. 28 (which coincided with the GOP debate held in Boulder, CO), and a Divest DU occupation of our University’s Administrative building leading up to our meeting with administrators on Nov.
As an informed human being with agency, I feel a responsibility to act on injustices a demand a more just and equitable society for future generations to enjoy. This civic engagement is increasingly connecting me with people I strongly identify with, and I am excited to deepen my commitment to these causes in years to come.
Yoga Teacher Training
Earlier this week I returned from India where I was enrolled in a three week Yoga Teacher Training. The training was located in Rishikesh and focused on Astanga Yoga. While I went with the chief intention of deepening my personal practice and understanding of yoga philosophy, I returned with a heightened interest to teach in the coming years and share this passion with others. No other activity has given me equal peace of mind or deepened the personal understanding of who I am and why I am here than yoga, and I would be humbled to share this perspective and opportunity with others.
Post Grad Plans
With graduation fast approaching, I am beginning to more and more closely refine my future aspirations and goals. Currently, my chief goal is to volunteer with the Peace Corps for two years; I interview for a position in Nicaragua on December 30th – hopefully it goes well! I am also interested in moving to Mexico City to work for Greenpeace Mexico, and have been in contact with their offices about this potentiality. If you have other suggestions for ways to move Latin America and affect positive change please let me know!!
Again, to many of you I apologize for my limited contact the past months or even years. I’m never as good at staying in touch as I should be, and hope these brief email updates will foster increased communication, or at the very least remind you that I still exist. To continue the conversation, feel free to email me, friend me on Facebook, or connect with me on LinkedIn.