Emily Thomas, University of Denver
Emily is a talented scholar who applies her academic learning to her passion for creating sustainable community change. This passion for social justice and sustainability is clear when she talks about her identity as a sustainable development activist. In her work on and off campus, Emily demonstrates her commitment to understanding the root causes of social inequalities, especially equitable access to healthy foods. She focuses on working with communities to seek long-term solutions. Emily has served as a coach through the university’s Public Achievement program, empowering youth to create the sustainable futures they desire. Emily also works with communities in many other capacities. For example, she is an assistant gardener for the DU-community Bridge Garden, a member of DU Rotaract, and a member of Students for Sustainable Food. She is also an elected member of the university-wide Sustainability Council and co-chair of that council’s food and mindful consumption committee. Through this sustainability work, Emily has been an integral team member in assisting the Bridge Garden in transitioning to a new space on campus and in securing DU’s commitment to the Real Food Challenge, committing to the purchase of 20 percent “real food” by the year 2020.
-Rebecca Chopp, Chancellor
As a college student, I have not only invested in my own personal growth, but I have strived to encourage positive growth of individuals and causes on campus and in the national and international community. In community college, I sought out opportunities to create change and became passionate about access to education. I led a fundraising project for three years to help a primary school in Nepal improve conditions at their school for the boys, girls, and deaf students who learn there. Because of my hard work, our partners sent me to the school to act as a liaison for the project. From my experiences, I knew I wanted to study International Development and Health at the University of Denver and my classes and activities here have only fired up more passion within me to create change. I’ve had the pleasure of working with high school students through Public Achievement using the community-organizing model to address change in their communities and have become very involved with Social and Environmental Sustainability efforts at school. I consider myself a Sustainable Development Activist and intend on applying my passion for learning, being involved with community, and creating positive change to every future opportunity.