Sustainability Fellowships

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Sustainability Fellows

The creation of the Sustainability Fellows program addresses a critical need, getting students fully involved in green thinking and planning through education and advocacy. Sustainability Fellows focus on one or more projects of particular interest to them that meet university needs. Through the program, students also develop professional skill sets that will help them promote sustainability in future careers.

Sustainability Fellow Ashton Szymcek

Ashton-Szymcek.jpgAshton is a junior double majoring in Geography and Environmental Resources and International Studies. She is from Carbondale, IL and plans to take an active part in local sustainability by participating in Carbondale Spring this fall. She hopes to help companies pursue better and more environmentally friendly practices when she graduates as an Environmental Sustainability Consultant. Her goal currently, and in the future, is to better the world for ourselves and the ones who follow us. 


Sustainabililty Fellow Kirsten Gaard

website-photo.jpg Kirsten is a third year honors student from Downers Grove, Illinois. She is majoring in Geography and Environmental Resources, specializing in sustainability as well as climatology and hydrology, along with an Environmental Studies minor. Upon graduation she plans to continue her education in the Geography department graduate program at SIU. Kirsten is passionate about finding sustainable solutions for climate change, and hopes to work in that field upon obtaining her master’s degree.  

Sustainability Fellow Pearl Sika Deku


 Pearl Sika Deku, is a master’s student with the School of Earth Systems and Sustainability. Her major is Environmental Studies, and she hails from West Africa, Ghana. Pearl is concerned about promoting growth and sustainable living through community engagement and participation. She believes that her outmost desire and vision to work with the World Bank or the United Nations as an environmental activist or advocate starts from her experiences today. For this and among other reasons, she joined the SIU sustainability hub, which aims at empowering a culture of sustainability on campus through several innovative ways.

Sustainability Fellow Nick Erwin

Nick is a master’s student with a double major in Recreation and in Geography and Environmental Resources. Nick is focusing on the intersection of outdoor education and sustainability. Originally from Belleville, Illinois, Nick has spent much leisure time exploring the Shawnee and Mark Twain National Forests, finding a deep care for the environment. Currently serving on the City of Carbondale’s Sustainability Commission, Nick hopes to help with drafting the city’s first sustainability action plan.

Former Sustainability Fellow Holiday Wagner

Holiday Wagner

Holiday is a master’s degree student from McHenry, Illinois and is continuing her education in Geography and Environmental Resources after graduating with honors from SIU in May, 2018. Previously, she was worked with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources as a Conservation Worker. Additionally, she also was an intern for AES Solar and Giant City State Park and was a volunteer with Green Earth. In her free time, she enjoys photography and making environmentally inspired art pieces.

Former Sustainability Fellow Gabrielle Robles

Gabrielle Robles

Gabby is a senior from Normal, Illinois. She is majoring in Political Science and Economics, with specializations in law and financial economics. She is serving as a Sustainability Fellow in spring 2019. She is working on the STARS AC-1 report, which identifies sustainability-focused and sustainability-inclusive courses offered at SIU. After graduation, she hopes to work for a sustainability-focused NGO before heading to law or graduate school.

Former Sustainability Fellow Gage Mofield

Gage Mofield

Gage is currently a junior studying Zoology and has a double minor in Environmental Studies and Sustainability. This past summer he completed an internship at Giant City State Park through the Geography and Environmental Resources department, worked as a lab technician under Dr. Brooks for the sustainable eco-recreation project funded by the Green Fee, and also worked on miscellaneous projects at the Horticulture Resource Center. His hobbies include hiking, learning about the different aspects of sustainability, and petting dogs.

Former Sustainability Fellow Alexis Myers

Alexis Myers

Alexis is a Public Health major with a strong interest in protecting the environment though sustainability. She believes in harmony between humans, nature, and the economy along with having two cats of her own, Smokey and Bandit. She is a member of Eta Sigma Gamma, and will graduate in May of 2019. Alexis has plans to go back to school and get a master's degree in the environmental field.

Former Sustainability Fellow Jesse Gallaway

Jesse Gallaway

At the Sustainability Office, Jesse is responsible for recording and maintaining the data sheets for the recycling program and the ink and toner program. He is also working on developing the upcoming proposed sustainability dashboard. He is a mechanical engineering student who is focused on energy management and technology. In his free time (when there is some) Jesse works on vintage cars and motorcycles.

Former Sustainability Fellow Cecilia Albert-Black

Cecilia Albert-Black

Cecilia has been a Carbondale resident since she moved from Spain ten years ago. She's a second year honors student at SIU majoring in Geology and in Geography and Environmental Resources with a special interest in hydrology and sustainability. She is also conducting research in "Filtering arsenic from contaminated water" with the REACH grant through the geology department. She will be starting as a new fellow at the Sustainability Office this fall 2018.

Former Sustainability Fellow Erin Woolard

Erin Woolard

Erin is a senior from Zion, Illinois. She majors in anthropology and international studies, and minors in Spanish, geography, environmental studies, and Latino and Latin American studies. She has been a Sustainability Fellow since May 2018, and volunteers with the Center for English as a Second Language, the Humane Society of Southern Illinois, and is a member of the University Honors Program. She will graduate in December 2018.

Former Sustainability Fellow Samantha Griffin

Samantha Griffin

Samantha is a Geography and Environmental Resources major and Classics minor. She is currently interning with the Sustainability Office, working on the Ink & Toner Program. Samantha is passionate about recycling and Monarch butterfly conservation. In addition, she hopes to further educate the Carbondale community through events on clothing waste and butterfly conservation! She aspires to pursue graduate studies upon graduation.

Former Outreach and Education Sustainability Fellow: Andrew Aaflaq

Andrew Aaflaq

Andrew is a current paralegal and enviromental studies double major. In addition to conducting research for the office on topics such as green tech, campus sustainability initiatives, and IPM, he is currently working on a "Sustainability is for All Majors" campaign! His hope is to one day combine his passions in the environmental law field or work around sustainability in general.





Former Outreach and Education Sustainability Fellow: Julia Sanabria

Julia Sanabria

Julia is a master's student studying urban sustainability and climate change with the Geography and Environmental Resources Department. She believes that "integrating sustainability into all aspects of life will better serve our environment and economy in a more equitable way." Now that Julia has graduated, she has accepted an environmental management position in Kansas City where she will tracking sustainability data for facilities throughout the country! Congrats Julia!

Julia explains more of her role in the Sustainability office in her internship paper. She includes how our team works together "behind-the-scenes" in the day-to-days of office activities.

Former Recycling Programming Fellow: Elise Sawa

Elise Sawa

Elise is a forestry student with a minor in environmental studies. Not only did Elise manage the ink and toner recyling program, but worked on additional recycling programming as well! Now that she has graduated, she has accepted a forestry position in Idaho. Congrats Elise! 

Former Zero Waste Programming Fellow: Jatoya Hale

Jatoya Hale

Jatoya is a Geography and Environmental Resources/GIS student. She is currently managing the ink and toner recycling program. In addition, she is developing a Zero Waste Events programming concept for SIU.

We are currently seeking Sustainability Fellows!

Are you passionate about positively impacting the world around you? Do you have ideas to help improve SIU? We are seeking students who are enthusiastic to work as a part of the Sustainability Office team! We strive to match your passion with a current need on campus as a part of this un-paid internship program. Students are expected to work a set schedule for 8-10 hours per week and perform duties in a professional manner. If you are interested in becoming a Sustainability Fellow, please contact us at Include “Sustainability Fellow” in the subject line and tell us why you are interested in this role.