Freshmen year I attended my first Environmental Board meeting and sat in awe of the impressively accomplished, seemingly omniscient faces of the E-Center’s governing body. Bylaw and budget lingo bounced around the room and took root in my brain, eventually becoming a second language as I committed my extracurricular time to the E-Center.
The most rewarding part about spending my four years in the E-Center was watching the professional staff operate. Whether they were tackling bureaucratic work or pitching a new program idea to the Board, they did it with passion and unfaltering commitment. It takes a lot of work to produce new sustainability programs, and while not every project may prevail, it is incredibly impactful to both myself and the CU student body to see today’s sustainability leaders be so resilient in a field that has so many unique challenges.
In my opinion, the most successful aspect of the E-Center is its ability to provide a space for students to ask and to navigate some of the hardest questions of our generation, whether its tackling climate mitigation or socio-economic inequality, the E-Center provides perspectives and lessons that go beyond the average CU classroom. Each person you find in the E-Center has the interest of the students at heart, a characteristic that has made the E-Center a leading power on campus.
I leave the E-Center’s doors confident and thankful for the leadership tools that my E-Center friends have given me. Dave taught me to be bold, strategic, and respectful. Michelle and the Eco-Social Justice Leadership Program taught me to listen, to make space for the marginalized, and to understand the undeniable intersection of social and environmental justice, an aspect of sustainability I have learned to be essential in any climate conversation. Julie taught me to be unapologetic and to shatter that ever-present glass ceiling. Marianne taught me to pick my fights and Sarah Dawn shared her unequivocal abilities to see the positive…in any situation.
As I embark on a career in the challenging field of sustainability, I will make sure to look back on my time at the E-Center, where it all started, and remember that I am backed by a team so strong that any climate challenge better be shaking in its boots. Thanks E-Center, I’ll keep in touch.
Kelly Poole is co-chair of the UCSG Environmental Board, of which she has been a member for the past 3 years, and will be graduating in May with a BA in Environmental Studies.