To anyone who knows Amber Rose Greaney, it was no surprise to learn that she was selected as a recipient for IUPUI’s William M. Plater Civic Engagement Medallion for the 2020–21 academic year. After all, her list of accomplishments, projects, and honors could fill a book—or two.
“Amber’s commitment to community engagement far exceeds that of most students I have had the pleasure of teaching,” says Cullen Merritt, a faculty member at O’Neill who has worked with Amber Rose on many research projects. “I have high hopes and expectations for Amber, whose academic and professional potential are unlimited.”
She was a member of the IUPUI Honors College and had already placed in the university’s Top 100 and Top 10 students as an undergraduate. In her graduate career, she was named to IUPUI’s Elite 50 and Premiere 10 grad students.
Yet Amber Rose herself was speechless when she learned she was receiving the award.
“I was overwhelmed with gratitude,” she says. “This award is special to me because it goes beyond academics and is really about the impact I’ve had helping organizations, communities, and future generations here in Indianapolis.
Ever since her first class in 2017, Amber Rose has been a fixture at O’Neill IUPUI, working to make the campus and the city more sustainable places.
“I choose O’Neill because I love the diversity, the downtown location, and that everyone is passionate about serving others,” she explains. “It’s inspiring to be around that energy.”
Amber Rose earned her undergraduate degree in Sustainable Management and Policy, then continued on through the Accelerated Master’s Program. In May 2021, she will complete her Master of Public Affairs in Environmental Policy and Sustainability.
As she prepares to leave O’Neill, she says she is grateful for the lessons and support she’s had along the way.
“I have loved that the faculty and staff have pushed students to consider how what we learn is applicable to the local context,” she says.
That push turned into a launching pad for Amber Rose. She has participated in service learning through community preservation projects, worked with municipal organizations to help identify sustainability trends in their industries, been involved in environmental justice advocacy projects in Indianapolis, and helped Indiana Legal Services develop a three-year strategic plan for social innovation.
As a graduate assistant, she has worked on many faculty research projects, including tracking and coding COVID-19 executive orders with O’Neill’s Peter Federman and measuring the effectiveness of the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council with Merritt’s Project for Research on Organizations, Management, and Publicness Theory (PROMPT) team. She is even currently working in the Mayor’s office as a Peterson Fellows Program Scholarship recipient.
“I’ve been given so many opportunities to work with community partners and organizations that have allowed me to apply what I’m learning and see it make a difference in the city,” she says.
Amber Rose is also a driving force behind many projects to help make IUPUI a more sustainable campus. She serves as the Sustainability Analyst Intern in IUPUI’s Office of Sustainability, is a crucial member of the self-proclaimed Sustain Gang group of sustainability interns, and has served on IUPUI’s Sustainability Council.
“Amber has been a vital member of IUPUI Sustainability since she joined us as a freshman,” says Jessica Davis, the director of IUPUI’s Office of Sustainability and an O’Neill alumna and adjunct faculty member. “She has demonstrated the prowess of her ability through the countless projects she has launched and managed. It has been an absolute joy to watch her growth over the years and play a small part in her many successes. She certainly has a bright future ahead of her.”
What’s next for Amber Rose? Time will tell. After commencement in May, she plans on traveling across Europe before returning home to begin a career where she can continue her passion for enhancing social, environmental, and economic sustainability in Indianapolis.
But she has left a legacy of service at IUPUI and in Indianapolis—and she encourages other students to do the same.
“I would recommend students get involved in the community because of the personal growth and humility that come along with doing so,” she says. “Civic engagement is a cornerstone in my education and personal values. It has helped me understand how to use what I know to help others. One of Dr. Merritt’s leadership lessons that resonated with me is ‘To whom much is given, much will be required’—I think that explains it best.”