Student spotlight: Emily Hinkle

We are excited to highlight Emily Hinkle, a proud Arizona State University and Project Cities alumni, who participated in multiple applied projects from 2019-2021, with the City of Glendale and the City of Peoria. Following graduation, Emily was also hired as a contractor by the SCN team, to conduct additional research and writing for the City of Peoria’s water conservation and drought contingency planning project.

Hinkle studied Global Agribusiness for her undergrad and graduated summa cum laude in 2018. She was nominated for WP Carey’s senior of the year. Since she had such a great experience, she continued to pursue her Master of Science degree in Environmental and Resource Management from Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU, graduating in 2019. In 2020, she completed her Water Management certificate from ASU in conjunction with the Agribusiness & Water Council of Arizona. She currently works for N. Weiss Associates, Inc., a small environmental consulting company as their travel reduction program expert. This program is based on a Maricopa County ordinance to help reduce air emissions and air pollution mainly caused by single-occupancy vehicle travel to work in other places. Looking toward the future, she is interested in working with water policy in Arizona.

The following dialogue and summary come from an interview with Emily about her experience in the Project Cities program.

Emily participated in two applied projects; you can review her work at and

Question: If you visited the City of Glendale or Peoria tomorrow, what suggestion from your project would you be excited to see in action?

Answer: Emily spent substantial time researching how water supply could be augmented through rainwater harvesting, improved use of greywater systems, and water-wise home development to support water conservation in Peoria. Emily expressed, “it'd be exciting to see if the city of Peoria implemented rebates or incentives and educational programs for people to learn about and install rainwater harvesting systems and/or gray water systems, as well as adopt water efficiency standards for new homes and buildings.”

Question: Describe what you think or imagine your project impact will be in the upcoming 5-10 years?

Answer: Emily was excited to imagine that our community partners would implement her team’s project recommendations. She hopes that the research she did for Glendale helps streamline their processes and make their aboveground chemical storage tank (AST) management program more efficient. For the water conservation project which had a direct impact on the community, she believes Peoria will find their suggestions helpful in managing the city water supply, and perhaps set them up as a leading example in sustainable water management that other cities may emulate.

Question: What does sustainability mean to you personally?

Answer: “I see sustainability as stewardship, meaning, we work to meet the needs of the present, while not compromising the needs of the future. I see it as responsibly managing our resources for us and posterity. I also see sustainability as a holistic concept that encompasses more than just the natural environment.”

Question: How do you imagine sustainable development in our communities and what do you like about this concept?

Answer: Emily conveyed that sustainable development is an overarching concept, a delicate balance of meeting society’s needs and environmental needs. All of these elements are important and play a role in achieving better outcomes, Hinkle gave some examples of what we’d need to achieve sustainable development, “...ensuring that there's clean available water, [regenerative] agricultural production, [decent work], quality education for ourselves, and future generations. In my opinion, all of these things are part of developing a sustainable society. And one of the things I like about this concept is the aspect of personal responsibility because if we're willing, I believe that each of us can take responsibility for our lives and do our part to make the world a better place.”

Question: How has studying or working at ASU prepared you for your career field?

Answer: Hinkle shared that she loved her years studying and working at ASU. The university provided real-world and hands-on experiences such as Project Cities. She enjoyed her many amazing guest speakers, seminars, and field trips where she had opportunities to interact and learn from industry professionals. She expressed that she graduated feeling prepared and equipped to pursue her career interests; the current work that she is doing with Maricopa County was uplifted by the time spent in ASU and PC.

Question: Do you have any parting advice for students that are either new to the project Cities program, or for freshmen that are coming to ASU?

Answer: “I would encourage my fellow Sun Devils, to first find your passion. And if you don't already know what it is, take time to find out what you're passionate about, why you're passionate about it, and how that can be used to make a positive difference in our world. And then along with that, spend some time considering what kind of person you want to be and develop those character qualities because that will determine the direction of whatever you choose to pursue academically or as your life's work.

Second, persevere, don't give up on pursuing your dreams, your education, or making a difference. Learning [during a pandemic], is a challenge right now. But hardships can either make us or break us and the choice is up to us. So if you choose to let it [build] you, you will be stronger as a result. And that perseverance and strength of character can help you overcome other challenges that you may face in life.

Third, I would say, keep an attitude of gratitude and look for ways to give back because each of us has interests, talents, and skills that can be used to have a positive impact in our communities and our world. So spend time honing those things, continue your education, so that you can be even more effective in helping others and our world, and then be grateful for the opportunities you have. And I commend you all for embarking on this journey and wish you all the best.”

Project Cities is a member of the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Network (Epic-N) and is administered by ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and the Sustainable Cities Network. Stay up to date with Project Cities and the Sustainable Cities Network by following us on social media or subscribing to our newsletter.