School of Sustainability junior Jade Lantz has been on our radar a lot lately. Last week, she presented about the benefits of community gardens in Phoenix from an environmental justice perspective, based on research she conducted through the Sustainability Undergraduate Research Experience program. In addition, her hometown newspaper, the Rockford Register Star, recently published her op-ed about food deserts: “My View: The solution to supermarket shutdowns may be in the schools.” In the essay, Lantz wrote that community gardens in schools can ensure that children still have access to healthy, fresh foods even if they live in a food desert. We asked Lantz a few questions including why she decided to study sustainability and what sustainability means to her. Question: Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Answer: I am from Rockford, Illinois, a town about 90 miles from Chicago. Growing up, I had a very normal life but when I graduated high school, my family decided to move to Phoenix and from that moment on, my life has taken so many unexpected turns, including my parents getting divorced; attending three different colleges; spending one summer as an au pair in Bologna, Italy and one in Madrid, Spain; and getting my associate's degree in just one year. The past three years have been challenging, amazing and surprising! Q: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study sustainability? A: I went through a phase where I was always reading, and I was gravitating toward sustainability-related books, so that was my first introduction to the subject. Additionally, my time in Bologna became part of my inspiration to study sustainability. I discovered how to properly recycle there, how city-wide composting can be successful, and loved all the green space and lack of cars. When I returned to Phoenix, I decided to enroll in several electives at Mesa Community College to determine what I was interested in. Sustainability was one of those subjects, and by my second or third week in Sustainable World, I knew that it was what I wanted to study. Q: Why did you choose ASU/the School of Sustainability? A: It was really a series of weird events that brought me to ASU, beginning with my parents’ very spontaneous move to Phoenix when I was a senior in high school. After following them here, I wasn't even sure if I wanted to go to college, but once I discovered my passion for sustainability, it seemed like fate that I just happened to live in the same area where a great sustainability program exists. Once I decided that I wanted to study sustainability, I didn't even consider any other schools. Q: What’s been your favorite class so far and why? A: I cannot choose just one, but I have really enjoyed all the track courses I have taken so far (SOS 320, 323 and 325 for the Society and Sustainability track) because they went in-depth into different areas of sustainability that interest me, and I think taking these courses has given me a better understanding of sustainability as a whole. I am interested in how cities can be simultaneously so sustainable, with everything so compact and accessible, but also so unsustainable, with pollution, waste, crime, etc. SOS 323 (sustainable urban dynamics) was a great experience — it taught me so much about urban sustainability and I loved the variety of assignments that were thought-provoking and engaging. Q: How do you envision applying sustainability to your future career? A: I am such an indecisive person so I do not know exactly what I want to do when I "grow up" yet. However, after interning at an urban farm and doing a semester-long research project on community gardens and urban agriculture, I hope that my future career is related to urban sustainability and food systems. Q: What does sustainability mean to you? A: To me, sustainability means living within the means of our planet and redefining our culture's values to reflect those of equity, safety and responsibility to future generations. Q: Have you received any scholarships or awards you’d like to talk about? A: I was very lucky to receive the Sustainability Champions Scholarship this year, and I recently found out that I was awarded runner-up for the Sustainability Undergraduate Research Experience program this semester. The honor was very unexpected and I am grateful to see that my research was well received!