Each year, Sustain IU pairs students with organizations through the Indiana Sustainability Development Program’s summer fellowship opportunity. The Climate Fellows program allows students to work in a full-time professional setting, addressing sustainability issues, while also helping to combat the loss of workforce talent in sustainability.
The fellowship places an emphasis on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Four O’Neill IUPUI students are included in this year’s Climate Fellows cohort:
- Ciana Rose Sorrentino: Master of Public Affairs in Policy Analysis
- Fellowship location: Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency
- Jonathon Lewis: Sustainable Management and Policy
- Fellowship location: August Mack Environmental
- JD Sparks: MPA in Environmental Policy and Sustainability
- Fellowship location: Solar United Neighbors
- Halee Griffey: Sustainable Management and Policy
- Fellowship location: City of South Bend
Two O’Neill IUPUI students, Halee Griffey and Jonathon Lewis, shared their experiences in the program and what they hope to accomplish.
Where are you interning this summer and what your role is?
Halee: “I am working with the city of South Bend. While interning with South Bend—a Northern Indiana leader in sustainability—this summer, I will conduct a greenhouse gas inventory, develop equitable policies and programs, and update the city’s Carbon Disclosure Project report response.”
Jonathon: “I am interning for August Mack Environmental, a company that provides assistance with environmental regulations for their clients. I help provide sustainability expertise, along with conducting research on sustainability aspects, as they look to expand towards providing assistance with sustainability efforts as well.”
How did you become interested in sustainability?
Halee: “I hadn’t heard the term ‘sustainability’ until my latter years of high school. Once I stumbled upon the word, I realized my family in my small hometown had always been practicing a sustainable lifestyle when the underlying goal was to save money. I became most interested in sustainability when learning that any person—no matter the income, location, or societal status—aids in the conservation of current and future generations by living within their means.”
Jonathon: “My first college class was an introductory sustainability class at IUPUI in which I learned what sustainability was about and completed a couple real-world sustainability projects. Getting that first-hand experience really helped me as it opened my eyes to sustainability’s potential for me. I always knew I wanted to spend my life helping people and saving the environment, but I didn’t know of any job field specializing in both until I ‘found’ sustainability.”
Why did you choose the O’Neill School?
Halee: “As a student pursuing dual degrees, I chose to add a major from the O’Neill School to focus on developing equitable solutions to real-world wicked problems through the lens of the three spheres of sustainability: environment, social equity, and economy.”
Jonathon: “I chose to attend the O’Neill School because it felt right to me. It was as simple as that. Three years later, I know that feeling was right—I still feel like the O’Neill School is right for me. I have made lifelong friends, have gained quite a few useful skills, grown as a person, and have been able to further advance my education and professional experience with sustainability. I don’t think I would have been able to do any of this without the countless opportunities that have been provided to me by the O’Neill School along with the support of the O’Neill faculty and staff.”
What advice would you have for a student considering the Indiana Climate Fellows program?
Halee: “When considering the Indiana Climate Fellows program, I would highly recommend keeping an open mind in terms of public, private, or non-profit placements to explore the significance of sustainability in each unique sector.”
Jonathon: “I recommend they apply. This is a useful experience with regards to an application and interview process that may come in handy in the future for other potential job opportunities. I would also say they should be honest about their knowledge, experience, skills, and abilities. As long as they are willing to learn and work, they should be okay, as this internship is more of a learning experience alongside real-world experience. Both the internship placement supervisors and the ISDP coordinators understand this. If students aren’t truthful with this it may hurt them in the long run.”
What are your career aspirations?
Halee: “After obtaining a master’s degree, my career aspirations are to develop and implement sustainable initiatives alongside local governments both domestically and internationally to promote better well-being and equal rights within our contemporary society.”
Jonathon: “I am still slightly undecided with regards to my career aspirations. The only thing I know for sure is that I want a career in sustainability where I can help guide others (e.g., organizations, individuals, businesses, etc.) to be more sustainable. As of right now, I am very interested in sustainability consulting which fits perfectly with my ISDP placement this year.”