Meet sustainability alumna Kaylin Ayotte

Kayin AyotteKaylin Ayotte is an Arizona native and a two-time Arizona State University graduate. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from the School of Sustainability and a minor in business, she went on to expand her education with the Master of Sustainability Solutions (MSUS), graduating in Spring 2019. Along with fellow student Isabel Burdge, Ayotte developed a publication for sustainability professionals, Mindiac, that focuses on mindfulness. Read more about their culminating experience project, and Ayotte’s experience in the MSUS program, in her Q&A below. Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study sustainability? Answer: My travel experiences gave me the opportunity to discover diverse people and perspectives which is part of the reason I wanted to study sustainability. I was fascinated by the complexity and opportunity we had to make an impact and wanted to learn the tools needed to be successful in this endeavor by learning from sustainability scholars and scientists. Q: Why did you choose the Master of Sustainability Solutions at ASU? A: The MSUS degree was attractive to me because it was an applied experience. I knew that after my masters I wanted to go and apply what I learned to my career and feel prepared to navigate real-world situations. Q: So far, what particular classes or nuggets of information have really stuck with you or inspired you? A: My first semester of my master’s I took Dr. Arnim Wiek’s course called SOS 511: Advanced Sustainability Problem Solving. This course provided me clear guiding principles and frameworks to help assist with navigating complex situations. Dr. Wiek broke down the fundamentals of problem solving with a sustainability lens and provided case studies to showcase what this looks like in real world applications. It was a course that challenged me and taught me valuable lessons that I will continue to be appreciative of. Mindiac online publication cover imageQ: Can you tell us about your culminating experience project? A: Isabel and I created an online publication called Mindiac, that utilizes the five facets of mindfulness to help sustainability professionals develop and refine intangible skills to help them solve sustainability problems. The six-part publication intends to equip sustainability professionals with tools to navigate complex situations in applied setting. The publication can be accessed using this link: Our original culminating experience project was geared more towards general sustainability practices that Millennials should start to implement. However, when we started researching and delving into the concept of mindfulness we learned how powerful of a tool it is and created a case for why sustainability professionals need to implement mindfulness to enhance skill sets that they inherently need to be successful in the field. Q: How do you plan to use (or are already using) what you learned from this degree in your career? A: The past year and a half I have been working as a graduate assistant for Decision Theater, ASU. I have been working with clients and stakeholders to model complex situations using system modeling and game design. In the future, I plan to take the skills learned from MSUS and Decision Theater and apply it to the realm of business sustainability. Kaylin Ayotte and Isabel Burdge standing together in cap and gownQ: How did you balance your classes with your work/personal life? A: Calendar planning was key for me. I have everything that is a priority in my life planned and my time is allocated based on my priorities. I find that my days are more effective and productive when things are planned and this has also forced me to do what I planned in the allotted time because the rest of my day was already scheduled. I even scheduled the time that was intended for relaxing and entertainment because it gave me something to work towards and made me feel less guilty for taking personal time to myself.