Student Sustainability Group Hopes to Engage Alumni

January 09, 2012

January 9, 2012 — SustainaUnity, a student-run clearinghouse for sustainability events and activities in and around the University of Virginia, wants to expand to include alumni.

The organization, run by a coalition of student groups such as the Environmental Sustainability Committee of the Student Council, Green Grounds and Sustainability Advocates, has collectively nicknamed itself "The Fellowship of the Greens."

"Our vision for SustainaUnity is for it to be a resource for students to engage in green projects around Grounds and in the Charlottesville community," said SustainaUnity's  outreach coordinator, Grete Karuso, a fourth-year economics and financial mathematics major in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Adding alumni to the mix could increase support for activities and courses on Grounds.

"We have started extending this network to alumni in the hope that those who were involved in sustainability while on Grounds and those who are currently working in fields related to sustainability would be willing to both advise students on their projects and act as a starting point for students who would like more information about careers in sustainability," Karuso said.

SustainaUnity also sees alumni as a resource for students with an interest in "green jobs."

"This year, SustainaUnity has been approached by a student-run engineering organization that wants to hold a career fair just for companies that are involved in environmentally friendly engineering," Karuso said. "A list of alumni who are employed by such companies would be very helpful in this case. Not only would this and other green career fairs bring more attention to an ever-expanding career path, but they would help companies that are involved in sustainability advertise themselves on Grounds."

Expanding SustainaUnity's scope could have advantages for alumni and students, said Tom Faulders, president and chief executive officer of the U.Va. Alumni Association.

"The alumni in general are very supportive of U.Va. and the University's sustainability efforts," he said.
While the Alumni Association maintains contact with them, alumni are chiefly self-reporting about their job situations, and Faulders said it can be difficult to tell the scope of a person's job just from the title. He noted the Alumni Association sponsors a career network outreach for alumni to work with and mentor students and each other, but its database is not broken down by job categories.

Andrew Greene, sustainability coordinator in the Office of the University Architect, said alumni involvement with sustainability efforts could include support for programs or donations of specific resources, as well as real-world applications for what students are learning.

"This could be a way for the students to see the larger picture," Greene said. "It could be a chance to look at things they have not explored."

SustainaUnity wants to determine whether alumni are open to being contacted by students, Karuso said. She is particularly interested in determining if they would be willing to return to U.Va. for sustainability career fairs to talk about their business or industry.

Alumni can contact SustainaUnity and sign up to be contacted through its website.

— By Matt Kelly

Media Contact

Matt Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications