Written by: James Boyd, O’Neill Bloomington, Director of Marketing and Communications
Growing up in Greenwood, Indiana, Ciana Sorrentino didn’t know what she wanted to do when she grew up, but she knew she wanted to help her community, not sit in a cubicle for eight hours a day.
The third-generation Hoosier spent this past summer as an Indiana Climate Fellow, helping the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency develop key assets in nine different Indiana and Kentucky counties to develop a hazard mitigation plan.
Sorrentino was a triple-major as an undergraduate in the Kelley School of Business—business management, human resources, and international business, in case you were wondering—but joined the O’Neill School at IUPUI to pursue her MPA in Policy Analysis. During one of her courses, she was assigned a group project that paired her with Danni Schaust.
Sorrentino and Schaust—now the Indiana Sustainability Development Program Manager—talked about the benefits of the Indiana Climate Fellows program. With her interest in sustainability, the program seemed to be a perfect fit.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” Sorrentino said, “but I knew I wanted to add to my community and not just sit in an office somewhere. I want to do something where I can see my impact.”
Despite attending the Kelley School as an undergrad, Sorrentino said she ended up having more friends that went to O’Neill.
“They’d talk to me about all the things they were involved in, and what the culture of the school was like,” she said. “It was more aligned with what I wanted to do.”
And now she’s helping KIPDA, which provides regional planning, review, and technical services in the areas of public administration, social services, and transportation as well as community ridesharing programs in Southern Indiana and Northern Kentucky. She’s evaluating emergency services across the region, determining if they have adequate backup supplies, and how their facility directors plan for problems.
“We’re trying to prevent what happened in Texas,” she said, referring to the failure of the power grid there during a spate of severe weather in early 2021.
The experience has helped Sorrentino see where she wants to be after she graduates in May 2022.
“I really enjoy working with a sustainability mindset,” she said. “I’d love to work for an agency like this, preferably in Indianapolis, where I can help make a difference. That’s my goal in life—to make an impact.”
With four degrees under her belt already—Sorrentino earned an associate’s degree through an early college program while still in high school—and a fifth on the way, she’s put herself in a position to make that impact, wherever she lands.
Applications for the summer 2022 Indiana Climate Fellows cohort opens in January 2022. Learn more about the program requirements and how to apply at this link.