Student Spotlight: Jessica Griffin

Hometown: Pickerington, Ohio
Major: Industrial Systems Engineering
Minor: Humanitarian Engineering
Favorite SUSTAINS Events: DC/ Baltimore Trip

Hi, my name is Jessica Griffin and I’m a freshman engineer from right outside Columbus. I have loved being a SUSTAINS student and I am so glad that I applied! I knew that I wanted to be in SUSTAINS, because I have always been interested in applying my passion for sustainability to my engineering career. I found out about SUSTAINS through my older brother who was in it his freshman and sophomore years. Hearing about all the great events that SUSTAINS puts on, and the chance to further my understanding of sustainability encouraged me to apply as soon as I was accepted to OSU.

I have so many great memories thanks to SUSTAINS, but my favorite memory must be the DC/Baltimore trip. I would recommend every SUSTAINS member go, especially the freshman! Not only is it a great professional development trip where we learn so much about sustainability, but there is also lots of fun too. It’s the perfect balance of learning and free time. We spoke with professionals and government officials making huge strides to improve our nation’s capital and the surrounding communities. In between activities we went to museums, found the best (college student priced) restaurant for dinner, and relaxed at the pool.

SUSTAINS is a great opportunity to make friends with people of similar interests and learn things you never thought would interest you prior. I love all the opportunities to make connections with sustainability leaders in Ohio and further my learning in areas I am passionate about. The dinner and dialogue events focus on learning sustainability from professionals, making connections, and getting free food, and are a great way to learn about opportunities around Columbus. I highly recommend participating in every activity you can, whether it immediately interests you or not. You never know what amazing things you will learn in SUSTAINS!

Student Spotlight: Sravya Patibandla

Hometown: Powell, Ohio
Major: Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability (EEDS)
Favorite SUSTAINS Events: Maple Tree Sugaring Tour

Hi! My name is Sravya Patibandla and I am a first-year Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability major specializing in Business and Sustainability. I joined SUSTAINS because I wanted to find a community of people who cared about protecting the environment as much as I do, and I wanted to get involved with promoting sustainability on campus.

I can say, without a doubt, that SUSTAINS has helped me find a group of people with similar interests to mine and has given me opportunities to get involved in making OSU’s campus more sustainable. Although we all share a passion for sustainability, SUSTAINS represents a wide variety of majors, from engineering to business to public health. Because of this, the learning community brings in professionals from a variety of career fields, giving us the unique opportunity to learn how sustainability can be applied in a variety of industries and careers.

My favorite SUSTAINS event so far has been the maple tree sugaring tour. We went to the Stratford Ecological Center, learned how maple syrup is made, and even got to try some fresh maple syrup! While we were there, we got to see lambs that were only a week old and try herbs straight from the garden!

Sludging around in mud while wearing rainboots that aren’t mine, surrounded by my friends, is what I think of when I think of SUSTAINS. Being a part of this learning community has given me opportunities and experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise. From traveling to Washington, DC to helping create a community garden, being in SUSTAINS offers so many opportunities and I would recommend applying to anyone looking to find their niche within The Ohio State University.

Student Spotlight: Sarah Grossman

Hometown: Centerville, Ohio
Majors: Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability and Spanish
Favorite SUSTAINS Events: Visiting community farms and The Plant (Chicago Trip)

Hi! My name is Sarah Grossman and I am a second-year student pursing a double major in EEDS (specialization in International Development) and Spanish (specialization in Latin American Literatures and Cultures). I have always cared for the environment, but I was nervous about coming to OSU since there are so many people with a vast range of interests. When I first heard about SUSTAINS, I immediately wanted to join this community of people who also care about the planet and want to make the world a more sustainable place!

It’s really hard to pick a single, favorite SUSTAINS memory because I have had the opportunity to do many cool things through this program, but I would have to say the events realted to sustainable food have been my favorite. On the Chicago Professional Development Trip, we visited The Plant, which is a series of businesses that work together in the same building to create a closed-loop system. There was a bakery, coffee roastery, aquaponic farming system, kombucha brewery, honey bee farm, and more! Each business used other businesses’ waste in their own production. I also really loved the trips to urban and community farms, where we helped plant seedlings at Four Seasons City Farm in Columbus and built foundations for a microfarm at OSU Mansfield. I especially liked those activities, because the food produced directly services local communities!

SUSTAINS has given me the chance to pursue opportunities that I never thought I would be a part of before coming to OSU. The sustainability projects that we work on have helped me develop my own interests, and provided me with valuable experiences in team work, research, and networking. Due to my interest in sustainable food systems and food security, I was able to help develop and work on a composting project with other students and faculty that are just as passionate. Joining SUSTAINS and being able to live and work with other people who care about a sustainable world has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done!

Student Spotlight: Pat Cullinan

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Major: Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability
Favorite LC Event: Chicago Trip

I’m Patrick Cullinan, and I’m an Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability major specializing in Sustainability and Business.

When I was learning about the different learning communities offered by Ohio State, I was instantly drawn to SUSTAINS because it was a group of friendly individuals that were all interested in some aspect of sustainability. Being a part of this group is without a doubt the best thing I’ve done during my time on campus, and I’m so grateful to have joined such an amazing group of people in the SUSTAINS community.

An interesting note about SUSTAINS is that the people in the LC aren’t necessarily studying a subject that is directly related to sustainability. Engineering, business, and even astronomy and animation majors all help to represent the assortment of students within SUSTAINS. Because sustainability is an inherently holistic subject, having a variety of majors is an important element of the Learning Community because it allows for the opportunity to participate in valuable discussions with a diverse group of people and perspectives.

SUSTAINS offers countless events throughout the year that all have a focus of addressing some form of sustainability. Some of my favorite activities with SUSTAINS include touring Ohio State’s Byrd Polar Research Center, removing trash and invasive plant species along the Olentangy river, and the professional development trips to taken to Chicago and Washington, D.C. These different events helped reinforce topics I had learned in class and allowed me to see the real-world impact of what I was studying.

While the programs and trips hosted by SUSTAINS are amazing, I believe that the most valuable element of SUSTAINS is its ability to make a campus as large as Ohio State’s become smaller and more manageable. Being an out-of-state student that only knew a single person in all of Columbus, the early move-in program at the beginning of the school year helped me feel more secure about my transition from high school to college, and the activities I participated in allowed me to connect with other students and staff before classes had begun. SUSTAINS is important to me because it helped me feel more comfortable on campus, and it provided me with a support group of students and staff that continue to encourage me throughout all of my undertakings.

SUSTAINS has had a major role in leading me to become the student and citizen that I am today, and my college experience would have been drastically different had I not joined this amazing group of kind, talented, and educated individuals.

While I support SUSTAINS specifically, I would encourage everyone to explore the different learning communities offered by Ohio State, and to apply to a group that speaks toward an interest in their own life.

Student Spotlight: Clara Davison

Majors: Arts Management and Business
Hometown: Shawnee, Kansas
Favorite LC Event: Chicago Trip

You know you’re traveling with SUSTAINS when the only restaurant that can accommodate all the vegetarians and vegans on the road trip is a Chipotle in rural Indiana.

Over Fall Break, the SUSTAINS Learning Community traveled to Chicago for our annual professional development trip. We visited businesses and nonprofits dedicated to sustainability. I don’t study environmental issues in my regular coursework, but I know sustainability is critical for all of us. As an arts management and business double major, I was fascinated by our experience.

At TESTA Produce, we toured one of the first LEED certified commercial buildings in Chicago and spoke candidly with CEO Peter Testa. We met with employees of Invenergy, a developer of sustainable energy projects, and discussed the challenges of maintaining complex networks of wind, solar, and natural gas facilities across the country.

We toured a high-end office building owned by Tishman Speyer, the commercial real estate management firm. After learning about sustainability initiatives in the massive property, from the trash room to the air filters, our guide showed us to the roof. The remarkable view of Chicago gave a compelling (and beautiful) perspective to our conversations about sustainability.

We met with the CEO of the Great Lakes Alliance and discussed the legislative fight against microbeads and the challenge of replicating this success. The unique advocacy needs of the Great Lakes were fascinating.

We visited the Plant Chicago, a fascinating nonprofit in an old industrial building that includes a bakery, a coffee shop, an outdoor garden, an aquaponic system, and a brewery in an innovative and sustainable food production loop. The spirit of the Plant reminded me of similar artist collectives, best demonstrated by the compelling, collaborative work of artists in Franklinton and elsewhere in Columbus.

During our time in Chicago, I accompanied one of my dearest friends from high school, Gabi, who attends University of Chicago, for a Chicago Symphony Orchestra performance. During the mind-blowing finale of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (seriously listen to it– if you are indifferent about classical music, this piece will turn you into an avid fan), I experienced that familiar sense of wonder that first interested me in the arts. This triumphant piece of music has been performed and shared for generations. Art and sustainability, to me, are inseparable. They both aspire to preserve and protect. Art and sustainability are hopeful about the possibilities of humanity. They are fiercely committed to progress for future generations.

I am grateful for the eye-opening opportunity to travel to Chicago and engage with a variety of professionals through SUSTAINS. Wherever I end up in the arts world, sustainability will be a non-negotiable part of my work.

Student Spotlight: Jackson Howard

Hometown: Chagrin Falls, Ohio
Major: Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability
Minor: Economics
Favorite LC Event: Chicago Professional Development Trip

Hey, everyone! My name is Jackson Howard and I am a first-year, honors student pursuing a major in Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability and a minor in economics. My interests include listening to vinyl, pretending to know about plants, and attempting to be vegan every once in a while.

Before coming to college, I would hear students discuss how the hardest part of pursuing a degree in higher education is the difficulty of classes or being away from home for long periods of time, but these are not exactly true. In all actuality, the hardest part of college is finding a niche within one’s major, it is meeting professors and faculty who can assist with one’s specific interest, and, above all, it is finding opportunities. SUSTAINS solves these issues.

From monthly dinner and dialogues to talking with faculty during survey, SUSTAINS provides opportunities to network and discover sides of sustainability which other students simply do not have. The most auspicious and beneficial opportunity which SUSTAINS provides is the yearly fall-break trip which, this year, took place in Chicago. The three-day trip composed of meeting with sustainable companies and groups such as Testa Produce, Invenergy, Tishman Speyer, and Alliance for the Great Lakes. Along with meeting with individuals from these groups, we visited the Museum of Science and Industry, the Chicago Conservatory, and had time to explore the Magnificent Mile and other areas in our free time. The experiences and opportunities that are gained from the fall trip are extremely beneficial in not only networking but also in finding one’s niche within sustainability.

Student Spotlight: Maggie Borders

Hometown: Dublin, OhioMaggie
Majors: Environmental Science and German
Favorite LC Event: Baltimore/DC Trip

Hey friends! My name is Maggie Borders and I am a second year student studying Environmental Science and German from Dublin, Ohio. I am also currently an RA for SUSTAINS, and I could not love it more.

I am not one of those people who has always known what their major would be or who had a plan for their life—I go with the flow, and, as such, I had only a vague idea of my major before I came to OSU. However, I have always been interested in the environment, and it wasn’t long before someone in SENR told me about the opportunity to join a brand new, sustainability-focused learning community on campus called SUSTAINS. I’m all about new and interesting opportunities, and it wasn’t hard to make the decision to participate in a community that was brand new and aligned with my environmental sensibilities.

Being in my second year as a member of the community, I can reflect back on the past 3.5 semesters and confidently say that SUSTAINS has done more for me and my college experience than I could’ve ever imagined it would when I applied. When I think about SUSTAINS, I immediately think of all the amazing opportunities offered to me through my involvement in the program by the absolutely exceptional advisors of the LC. My favorite event to date has to be the trip we took to Washington, D.C. over fall break. Friends, I cannot adequately express to you how much fun I had or how lucky I felt to have gone on this trip.  We talked to so many successful and influential people in the short time we were there, but we still had the option to experience what we wanted to in D.C. I had an incredible time, and that trip truly epitomized both the learning as well as the community aspects of SUSTAINS—I can’t imagine a better way to spend fall break than to hang out with your friends and learn about the stuff that really interests you (and you don’t have to take a midterm on it later J).

Really, SUSTAINS is one of those really cool opportunities that I’m sad not everyone has a chance to be a part of. Every staff member involved in the community works incredibly hard to make the LC as successful and meaningful as possible, and you meet so many people who are invaluable to your education, career, and social life at Ohio State. It has been the most influential part of my experience at OSU, and I hope that I get to share such an incredible opportunity with many more students to come!


Student Spotlight: Ben Luce

Hometown: Pittsburg, PABen
Major: Chemical Engineering
Favorite LC Event: Canoeing the Olentangy River with the COMPAS program faculty and City of Columbus sustainability leaders

My name is Ben Luce and I’m from Pittsburgh, PA. I am currently studying Chemical engineering with a focus on sustainable energy. My hometown, just north of Pittsburgh, is very small and coming to The Ohio State University was a big change in scenery. I had received advice from friends and family to join groups at OSU that share my interests and when I saw SUSTAINS as an option I was intrigued. The SUSTAINS Learning Community, to me, offered a small school environment in a large campus setting. It allowed me to make friends quickly and keep those friends throughout the entire year since we are all living in the same residence hall.

The “SUSTAINS experience” is a way to network with officials in sustainable fields, outreach to local businesses that focus on sustainable business models, and delve deep into some of the modern world’s issues. The leaders of the SUSTAINS Learning Community are wonderful. They are organized and well prepared and genuinely want to help you as you start off your years at OSU. As a member of SUSTAINS, I have been able to visit a biodigester, take a canoeing trip down the Olentangy river while discussing water pollution and sustainability, and do many other things that teach how to have a sustainable lifestyle. The main focus of SUSTAINS for me is to learn how to become sustainable in the future so that future generations can enjoy the same world I live in. It’s definitely about more than just reduce, reuse, and recycle.

SUSTAINS is comprised of people of all majors so an influx of ideas and thoughts are always present. It doesn’t matter what your major is as long as you are interested in discovering what being sustainable really means.

Overall, SUSTAINS has influenced my choice of career path and major with OSU. SUSTAINS has taught me what being sustainable is about and how we can educate others on how to keep our planet well. After all, without a planet, there is no us.

Student Spotlight: Sterling Winter

Hometown: Chico, CaliforniaSterling
Major: Sport Industry
Favorite LC Event: Pepsi and Sustainability Snacks and Chats

I’m Sterling Winter I am in my first year at OSU majoring in Sport Industry with a minor in Business. I have always had an interest in business sustainability and in discovering how businesses can be both profitable and “green”. I am from California and the thought of moving so far away from all the people I knew was somewhat intimidating, so when I saw the application for the SUSTAINS Learning Community I decided to apply in the hopes that being part of a smaller community with students who shared my interests would make it easier to get to know people. I am very happy that I applied to SUSTAINS, as I have made many new friends and been to lots of interesting events.

The greatest thing about this learning community is all the different events you can participate in. Since sustainability is a very broad topic, there is a wide variety of interests people have. In our SUSTAINS class, that the Learning Community Advisors teach, there are students interested in business sustainability, agriculture, and even urban planning. We have had several speakers – ranging from members of OSU staff and faculty to professionals in both the private and public sector – come and meet with our group to discuss what they do with regards to sustainability and how students can impact the world around them. At one of my favorite events from semester, we had a PepsiCo recycling analyst talk to us about how a company as large as Pepsi is working towards a sustainable future. Networking with these sustainability leaders was a great opportunity to ask questions and learn a lot about the initiatives all around campus and beyond.

Since joining SUSTAINS I have met many interesting people who I can connect with around the topic of sustainability. I would recommend applying, because living in this community puts you in a great group of people who share your interests right from the start of your college career.

Student Spotlight: Selina Wang

Hometown: Xi’an, ChinaSelina
Major: Accounting
Favorite LC Event: Zero Waste Tailgate

My name is Selina Wang, and I am an international student from China. I’m currently a first-year accounting major. At first I thought SUSTAINS was solely an academic group, but I have since discovered it is so much more than what I initially expected. In additional to learning about sustainability around campus, SUSTAINS also helps you develop your networking skills and we have many educational and social events in and outside of Columbus, Ohio. From my perspective, this is the best part because it creates an opportunity to be involved in our local community. One of my favorite events was the Zero Waste Tailgate, an event where students teach the people tailgating at an OSU football game what can and can’t be recycled. My favorite part of this specific SUSTAINS event was learning how to start a conversation with people about recycling and sustainability, and seeing how appreciative everyone was of our efforts – some people even shared their food with us! It was a great opportunity to talk to many people and help spread the word about sustainability!

For an international student like me, I was really afraid to talk at the beginning of this semester since English is not my first language. However, every time I walk into my residence hall now, I know people and know that I have the support of the SUSTAINS community. That means so much to me and has made such a difference in my experience as a student at OSU.