Location: Rochester, MI, United States
- Issues Areas:
- Environmental Justice
Campus: Oakland University - Rochester, MI
Fellowship Class Year: 2008
- Fellow Groups:
- Leadership Academy
Featured Fellow Spotlight
What do you stand for?
I stand for environmentalism and civil rights.
What inspired you to apply for the YP4 fellowship?
I have always been involved in a lot of different short-term community service projects, which I enjoyed but always wanted to work on projects that would be more long-term. I was looking to work on projects that were more lasting and at the same time develop enduring relationships. I really feel good about the fact that my work with YP4 will build something and effect changes that will last for future generations.
What have you been involved with since the YP4 Summit?
I applied for the Teach for America program. I have been working closely with the Environmental Coalition on my campus, Oakland University in Michigan, to make changes in the university’s environmental policies. Currently, I am on an alternative spring break in New York City, working with the Youth Service Opportunity Project. We’ve been spending each day working on different projects around the city with the goal of really gaining a better sense of poverty in NYC. By working in different food banks and soup kitchens each day we are developing a real understanding of the roots of poverty and homelessness.
What have been your major struggles and your major successes?
I have always been passionate about working with young people through mentorships and leadership development opportunities. A major struggle for me is dealing with the stereotype of the apathetic young person. I see a lot of ageism when I’ve tried to position young people in leadership roles and it’s frustrating. If we don’t or won’t provide the opportunities for young people to grow in their leadership, how will they learn? I always want to remind people that at one point they were young and didn’t have experience but the only way they got to where they are is because someone at some point gave them the opportunity that I want all young people to have, otherwise there’s no way to grow. It’s also a struggle to get people to step outside their own head and their set ideas and listen to what we have to say about the issues.
I am so proud of a training I put on at my campus called “Our World Today.” I worked with a friend who will also be helping me on my Blueprint for Social Justice and we presented on environmental justice in the Detroit metropolitan area. Most people in the training didn’t even know what “environmental justice” meant! We showed videos about the pollution and effect of global warming on our city and had discussions about the root of the problem. At the end of the training we offered people the opportunity to get involved in The Greening of Detroit, which is a project that plants trees and community gardens and does restoration projects around the Detroit metropolitan area. The training was a great success; I really feel like everyone left with a great understanding of environmental justice and how they can help.
Another huge success has been in my work with Environmental Coalition on my campus. This year is the first year that we will have campuswide recycling. In the past there has been recycling but only in select parts of campus and from now on the university will recycle everything campuswide, in all dorms, all buildings — it’s a really exciting accomplishment for us!
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I hope to one day start a community-based organization that offers mentorship and leadership development for young people living in areas badly affected by environmental issues. I want to teach them about careers in environmental justice, raise awareness and bring groups together to combat environmental problems by building urban gardens and having people fixing the environmental problems within their own communities.