Meet sustainability alumna Nicole Kinsey

Nicole KinseyNicole Kinsey grew up in Tempe, Arizona, so going to Arizona State University was a natural choice. The only big change she faced was the size of school; in contrast with the small Catholic schools she was used to, ASU seemed huge. “I went from knowing everyone in my senior class to having classes bigger than my entire high school,” Kinsey said. “Communities like the School of Sustainability make ASU feel smaller and tight knit.” Kinsey wasn’t always a sustainability student — she added it as a second major a couple years into her ASU experience. This month, she graduated with bachelor’s degrees in both sustainability and global health. In her Q&A, read why Kinsey felt her education wouldn’t have been complete without sustainability. Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study sustainability? Answer: For my first two years of college, I was a global health major. I was almost done and on track to graduate a year early, but felt like something was missing from my education. I knew I wanted to add something to my degree — a minor or major — but I had no idea what. My global health degree required me to study abroad. I had decided on the Human Dimensions of Sustainability and Health study abroad trip in Australia and Fiji with the amazing Dr. Katie Hinde. Before my study abroad experience, I had never even heard about sustainability. By the time I left Australia, I had fallen in love with the relationship between health and sustainability. Getting up close and personal with sustainability made me realize this was exactly what I needed in my education. I’ll never forget getting prepped by our instructors for our dive in the Great Barrier Reef and learning about coral bleaching for the first time. Next thing I knew, I was swimming above the reef, and the coral was right in front of my eyes. The first-hand experiences I had changed my life. When I came home, I added a sustainability minor a week later. The course work from that semester made me fall more in love and I decided to add it as a second major. Q: What is something you appreciate about the School of Sustainability? A: I love how small the school is. I’m very comfortable in smaller settings since I went to small schools my whole life. It’s helped me create more personal relationships with the faculty and professors. I love when I go to my advisor’s office and they can pick up the last conversation we had months ago. You can tell the professors and advisors really care about the success of their students. Q: What’s been your favorite School of Sustainability class so far and why? A: So far, my favorite class has been SOS 498: Sports & Sustainability - Spring Training Baseball with Colin Tetreault. Colin is one of the coolest professors I’ve ever had — he’s so much fun! Our class worked with the Oakland Athletics during their 2019 spring training season to implement sustainability within Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Arizona. When I first signed up for the class, I had no idea what I was getting into. I had no idea what baseball had to do with sustainability. I was astonished by how you can promote and incorporate sustainability in countless ways within a stadium. We worked on marketing strategies, fan activations, zero waste and data collection. As captain of the activations team, I worked towards fan engagement and motivation towards sustainability practices. It was an amazing “real-world” interaction around sustainability with a large company. The class made me more interested in corporate responsibility towards sustainability. Q: As part of the class SOS 323: Sustainable Urban Dynamics, you wrote an op-ed that was recently published in Commercial Appeal, part of the USA Today Network. (The op-ed, called "Memphis must address social, economic issues behind unsustainability," urges residents of Memphis, Tennessee to take sustainability more seriously.) Can you tell us more about your experience in SOS 323? A: Going into the class, I had no interest in urban dynamics. It was just a class I was required to take. Dr. Rob Melnick completely changed my perception of urban dynamics. His lectures were extremely intriguing. I loved every minute of his lectures — I wish he was able to lecture more! Dr. Melnick often shared his experiences of living in New York City. He mentioned High Line Park, a 1.45-mile-long train track sitting above the city that has been turned into a park. I went to New York City for spring break and got to see the park myself — it was so cool! One of my favorite parts was all the guest speakers he brought in. One guest speaker, Duke Reiter, even had me considering getting a master’s in urban planning. There was never a dull moment in Dr. Melnick’s class! By the end of the semester, I was regretting not being an urban dynamics track. Q: What does sustainability mean to you? A: There are hundreds of ways to define sustainability, but my favorite definition comes from Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report: “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Some people think sustainability is about “being green” or “thinking about the environment more” but I think we forget why we do these things in the first place: We do it to better our future. Q: Is there anything you’d like to add? A: I’ve loved to see the increasing popularity in sustainability over the past year and a half in the school. Many of my friends had no idea ASU even had a sustainability major. A few months ago, one of my best friends called me up and said she has been taking a sustainability class. She wanted to change her major to sustainability and had a ton of questions for me about the school. I had nothing but good things to say! I’ve loved every minute of my time in the School of Sustainability and I’m going to miss it so much.