Sharyn Tom: Saying "yes" to opportunity

Tom in front of a mosque in Istanbul
Tom in customary dress in front of the Rustem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul - another "yes" that she will never regret.
When we last spoke with Sharyn Tom, she was graduating from the School of Sustainability with a Bachelor of Science in the Economics of Sustainability. She also obtained a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the W. P. Carey School of Business. Tom chose to major in sustainability because she wanted to study something meaningful that went beyond traditional disciplines. She explained, “I lived with my family in Vancouver, Canada, in the summers, and sustainability efforts gave the city its vibrancy and charm. The initiatives also improved transportation, waste systems and peoples’ sense of personal responsibility.” These initiatives are why Tom chose to live in Arizona; she wanted to share the enthusiasm that she had grown accustomed to. Recently, we caught up with Tom for a debrief of post-graduation life. Tom’s time at the School of Sustainability provided her with excellent peers and mentors. She got to know the sustainability scientists and scholars community well, and realized that she wanted to work with passionate people for the rest of her life. Along with her own curiosity, it was these individuals – who exuded such passion and encouraged her to “say yes more often” – who led her to travel abroad after graduation. Tom always dreamed of travelling on her own. “I wanted to live out of a bag. Sleep under the stars. Taste foreign foods. Cross countries by train, boat and hot air balloon,” she says today. And she did just that. She travelled for six months, a period she describes as the most rewarding undertaking she has ever experienced. When asked if her travels changed her sustainability perspective, she says, “As a SOS student, you get used to explaining sustainability to other people: what you study, and why it’s important. When I was in Europe, I didn’t have to do that at all. People recognized the importance of my studies right away and were able to take my conversations to the next level. They would discuss what their country did well and where it could improve.” Though she is currently back in Canada, she returned to Arizona over the Thanksgiving holiday to do the things she has missed the most. In addition to seeing her friends and visiting some of her favorite ASU faculty members, Tom says, “I walked around in flip flops, wore shorts, ate burritos and watched American Netflix.” When asked where she will be in five years, Tom says that she doesn’t have a roadmap; instead, she has goals. In addition to being employed, Tom says, “Going abroad allowed me to be independent and gave me an amazing feeling of accomplishment. I want to be happy. I want to be somewhere that feels like home. ” The topic of sustainability will always remain prevalent in Tom’s life and is something she will carry from job to job, experience to experience. “My education made me aware of it; it’s not something you can un-see or ignore. The perspective that my peers and professors gave me is something that can never leave me, and I’m grateful for that.”