Almost two years ago, I had a meeting with Prabs and Cale at the union to talk about the work I was doing with Sustain UNL. I remember this meeting for a few reasons, one of them being the campus cat that was chilling outside the window next to the booth we were sitting at. I didn’t have any expectations for the meeting and I surely didn’t think it would be one of the defining moments of my college career. But looking back now, I see how being offered a job at the Office of Sustainability (OS) truly changed my life and helped me grow into the student and activist I am today.
Prabs and Cale, I can’t thank you enough for noticing my potential and believing in me that day.
I’m writing this blog post on my official last day working for the OS and I can’t help but reminisce. My mind travels back to the summer of 2019 when I took the lead on my first meeting with Housing. It was empowering and every meeting after that was a breeze. I remember the day Cale and I adopted a giant ficus tree from the C.Y Thompson Library and made the office it’s new home. Our team spent so many Fridays in Prab’s office writing all over the whiteboards trying to prioritize and accomplish all of our bold ideas. And of course, eating indian food for the first time, second time, and third time.
Working at the OS taught me many things, but I want to highlight the value of collaboration. Whether it’s asking for help and delegating or bringing new voices and perspectives to the table to plan an event -- the more people you can bring together the better. Creating a more sustainable campus isn’t going to come from the 5 people working in the OS, it’s going to come from a whole campus coming together and doing their part.
From the first day I met Prabs, I remember him always telling me that students matter most, and students have so much power to affect change on campus. There have been many times during the past three years that I felt those words weren’t true, but they are. The faculty, staff, and administration are here to support and listen to us. The changes may not be happening as fast as we want, but that’s why we have to keep letting our voice be heard and continue to hold the administration accountable. Change will come because this campus belongs to us, the students.
A thought that has been on the front of my mind the past few years is “how can I leave this campus better for the next generation of Huskers?” I invite you to ask yourself the same question whether you’re a freshman or a graduate student.
As I sit here and think about the next 8 months -- my senior year -- I have ahead of me, I feel supported and prepared to make some big moves. I’m taking everything I learned and the network I built from my time at the OS to help lead a campus wide effort to push the University of Nebraska to divest from the fossil fuel industry.
Here’s to a devoting my senior year to leaving campus better than I found it and honoring my time at the Office of Sustainability by taking the lessons I learned and putting them to good use.