Chatham University

Master of Sustainability (MSUS)
Student Profiles

Feyisola Alabi

Feyisola Alabi

After graduating from the University of West Georgia with a B.Sc. in Economics and a minor in Finance, I followed my passion for international business, and the ability to use business to solve problems. I traveled to Nigeria to work for an economic development NGO in Lagos (this gave root to what I knew I wanted to spend my life doing) and when I returned to the U.S I started to volunteer for a program the Bio-Bus (a Science outreach K-12 program) at Georgia State University, where I stayed for 4 years until I came to Chatham. Throughout those years I have always been involved in the community and working with young people, tutoring refugees and helping them get their GED. At the same time I always had a respect for things around me, and respecting what I have been privileged to enjoy; which stemmed from my faith, being a Science Instructor, and my Nigerian culture. The MSUS program at Chatham University allows me get the experience of both the business world and the world of sustainability separately. Thus, I am now enrolled in the dual MSUS/MBA program.

During this first year at Chatham, I was surprised to learn how huge the world of Sustainability is, and how it's so much bigger than recycling. It's rooted in injustice and how people's decisions–our decisions–affect and infringe on other people's rights, mostly of those who contribute minimally to the issue in the first place.

Jordan Bader, MSUS '16

Jordan Bader, MSUS '16

My interests have always been aquatic. Being a competitive swimmer, avid surfer, and Long Island native, most of my life has been spent in the water. I grew up spending weekends with my grandma, walking down the shoreline and collected shells. When I got older, I kayaked in the local estuaries and became president of my high schools marine science club. Needless to say, the relationship I have with the ocean is a strong one. Aside from other biomes, the ocean is one of the most diverse, housing millions of species, some of which are still being discovered today. However, rates of biodiversity are declining at a drastic rate, wreaking havoc within this vast ecosystem. This is what has drawn me into a Master of Sustainability.

I have earned a BA in Environmental Sciences from Drew University, in Madison, NJ. Most of my collegiate career was concentrated in marine and freshwater ecology and in conservation biology. From studying Diel vertical migration in zooplankton to coral reefs in Belize, my classroom and field experiences have armed me with an understanding of ecological diversity. As a graduate student, I am now particularly interested in human and animal relationships in regard to the neurophysiology of fish, and how we can start to incorporate fish into a conversation of animal welfare. I chose the MSUS program because here I am able to study this diverse relationship and apply it in a way that will make a difference within the way we think of ecology and how we recognize a cognitive species. After my career at Chatham, I plan on working toward a doctorate degree where I can explore this relationship further.

Nichole Brown, MSUS '15

Nichole Brown, MSUS '15

Growing up in Kansas I always understood how connected humans are to the earth. Experiencing harvest and living under the expansive sky of the plains made me appreciate nature from an early age. Sustaining the beauty and power the world has to offer has always been important to me on a personal level. It wasn’t until my last year of undergrad that it dawned on me that I could do something to help for a living! After I graduated I was fortunate enough to receive a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Indonesia. After living in such an environmentally and culturally rich place I knew that continuing my education in Sustainability was the right choice.

Tyler Clouse, MAFS '15

Tyler Clouse, MAFS '15

I come from a background in Environmental Education and Environmental Studies from The University of Michigan. My passion for education in various forms and food led me to the Food Studies program where I'm now pursing work in education, sustainability, and an understanding of the food system. I'm an avid advocate for education as a means for social and behavioral change in people of all ages, and believe that while we educate people, they too educate us about the world we live in and the way we think about our role in the food system.

I'm eager to see where the future takes me, though I anticipate that after my time at Chatham I will spend many more hours reading, studying, and interacting with higher education through students, organizations, and further professional development. A teacher and student at heart. I'm extremely excited to be part of a program with so many talented and educated individuals that challenge me everyday.

Holly Eve, MSUS '15

Holly Eve, MSUS '15

I am interested in sustainability because I feel it has the power to bring people together. Before coming to Pittsburgh and Chatham, I had lived in many places across the United States and in Japan. I worked in many different fields including the military, healthcare, and retail. The one thing all of those experiences had in common was people. People are the same all over. We are so much more alike than different. I feel many people look towards the differences that separate us rather than the commonality we all share. Sustainability issues can cross divergent world views to bring people together for a common good. Sustainability has the power to improve quality of life for all things on Earth.

I hope to use my degree to encourage social connectedness. I would like to find way to transcend the differences and find a common ground to start rather than seeking the differences. In doing so, I hope to promote civic engagement and social justice. Chatham was a perfect fit with their transdisciplinary, systems-based approach.

Komal Kooduvalli, MSUS '16

Komal Kooduvalli, MSUS '16

My interest in Sustainability first stemmed from when I was a little girl and wanted to keep everything clean and tidy. Organization was something I strived for even at a young age. As I grew older, I realized that wasn’t the way the world around me was structured and that with the innumerable complex problems plaguing our society today, the solutions were not easily understood. In high school, although many people dismissed the subject of Environmental Studies to be a throwaway class, I was inspired to dig deeper in order to understand the reasons as to why we are clearly taking the destructive path and calling it development.

After gaining my undergraduate degree with a Bachelor of Science (BSc.) in Environmental Science, Chemistry and Zoology from St. Joseph’s College (Autonomous) in Bangalore, I decided the next step for me was to specialize in the field of Sustainability with a focus on Renewable Energy. After graduation, I plan on working with an energy company that deals with projects related to the energy needs of low-income communities all over the world with an emphasis on either partial or completely decentralized integrated renewable energy system solutions.

I joined the MSUS Program in 2014 to get a more lucid understanding of how systems function, to acquire skills integral to analyzing data related to energy analyses and to gain an edge with respect to translating research to executable work.

Joshua Lewis, MSUS '16

Joshua Lewis, MSUS '16

My decision to enroll in Chatham's Sustainability program stems from my desire to expand on the knowledge I obtained while earning my Environmental Studies degree at Slippery Rock University. Graduating with a firm understanding of the environmental challenges we face as a global community, I was left unsatisfied with the explanations and solutions to these challenges. Chatham’s multidisciplinary program has allowed me to explore systems thinking, and work towards understanding and creating policy that will help to increase the sustainability of local and global communities.

My main focus at Chatham is to explore how communities can use policy to increase multimodal transportation in urban settings. I am drawn to transportation, as it is a key player in global climate change, in addition to its potential to provide local community and individual health benefits. Before attending College I lived in Lancaster, Pa, where I experienced poor planning in the form of urban sprawl, having to get in a car to travel anywhere. Now living in Pittsburgh I am experiencing the many amenities of a large city, specifically experiencing public transit and bicycle commuting. In an attempt to "practice what I preach" I have set a personal goal to commute to class by bicycle every day during my education at Chatham.

Carla Limon Calatayud, MSUS '16

Carla Limon Calatayud, MSUS '16

My passion for Sustainability started since I was very young but it strongly grew on me after volunteering in Kenya with the Maasai tribe. In Africa, I learn to live simply and admire the beauty of nature and the tribe’s relationship with it. After finishing my undergraduate degree in Advertising, I decided to pursue a Masters in Sustainability in order to become an expert in the field and be able to impact communities and the natural environment. I chose to do this at Chatham University because of the great sustainable initiatives that they are demonstrating and the close interaction with the professors.

My focus is mainly on conservation of biodiversity and the understanding of human and non-human relationships. I believe that building a strong relationship with nature can change individuals' everyday actions towards the well being of others and the environment itself. I am also strongly interested in the production of documentaries. In the future, I plan to travel the world working on different projects on these fields. I hope, in my travels, to go back to Africa and one day to Mexico to impact my home community.

Kurt Lindsey, MSUS '16

Kurt Lindsey, MSUS '16

My background in sociology and anthropology from my undergraduate studies led me to become interested in studying sustainability and how people interact with their environment. My interest in sustainability also originates from my curiosity about biomimicry and understanding how natural patterns and systems can be utilized to develop efficient systems and materials for people’s use. Chatham’s Masters in Sustainability offers a great reputation, experiential teaching methods, a location close to related work opportunities, and progressive attitude toward the field of sustainability. Chatham University’s methods of getting students involved in projects relating to their field of study, in order to provide students with knowledge and experience was an important aspect when I was choosing masters programs Lastly, Chatham’s new and developing Eden Hall Campus provides students with opportunities for experiential learning. I was positively surprised by the high level of collaboration students have with local companies and organizations. I have been given the opportunity to work on various projects with large companies, local community organization, and directly with the university in developing the Eden Hall Campus. Another unexpected part of the program has been the high degree of communication that students can have with their professor and advisors due to the small size of the program and dedicated faculty at Chatham.

After graduating from the MSUS program I intend to pursue a career in environmental consulting and work on projects relating to city planning through community engagement. I am interested in using my knowledge in the field of sustainability to show how green infrastructure can provide environment and social benefits for cities by improving social equality and developing beneficial relationships with the natural environment. I also intend to research and contribute to the issue of how community members will effectively maintain green infrastructure.

Kimberly Lucke, MSUS '16

Kimberly Lucke, MSUS '16

I chose to study sustainability because I wanted to think about and work on solutions for dealing with the impacts of climate change. I was also compelled by the idea that cities could be a solution to environmental and social issues and I wanted to learn more about it.

Originally from Chicagoland, I received my Bachelors of Science from Drake University in Environmental Science with grand visions of preserving the wild, open places of the world. At that point, the image of a city—with its high demand for water, energy, and resources, and a long history of eating up green space—was simply that cities were the antithesis of environmental stewardship. However, it was during my quest for the preservation of the non-human world that the notion of high-density living as a solution for environmental woes became apparent. My perception was flipped, opening up a whole new world of what a city is, and what a city could be.

The interdisciplinary characteristic of sustainability as a field, allows me to analyze cities from more than one perspective. Which is important because not all cities are created equal and there are many socio-economic dimensions to city living.

After I graduate I hope to work on local climate action plans and towards the creation of environmentally conscious and equitable human habitats.

Julie Morris, MSUS '16

Julie Morris, MSUS '16

The world as we know it is changing. Our current political, social, economic and environmental practices, in my opinion, are in need of serious critical examination through a sustainable lens. Sustainability, with its basis in systems thinking and framework for dealing with the many large and complex problems we as a global to local communities face, offers great hope for providing tools on how to negotiate the tumultuous landscape ahead.

I earned my bachelor degree through the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies with a concentration in Environmental Studies at Sonoma State University. My undergraduate education crossed many disciplines to provide a multi-layered foundation for examining pressing social, environmental, and political issues both locally and around the globe. Having born personal witness to the needs gap created by many of the unsustainable practices inherent in the global system of transnational, consumer capitalism (unemployment, under-employment, lack of a living wage, food insecurities, lack of affordable housing, health care and childcare, lack of accessible transportation, complete disregard for the environment, utter lack of concern regarding the issue of climate change, institutionalized racism, sociopathic behaviors and bullying that many of these work environments produce) by having spent many years working in the loan servicing industry, I am repeatedly returning to the idea that we need strong, local community centers to bridge the needs gap and combat the inequities caused by this unsustainable system.

In order to accomplish my goals that require a deep understanding of sustainable system interplay, I chose to enter the Master of Sustainability program at Chatham University. My research is focused on building sustainable community centers with an emphasis on how local needs are articulated, gathered and integrated into the decision making processes of sustainable initiatives. My completed course projects include a proposal to the Borough of Millvale, Pennsylvania for the design and implementation of a hillside food forest, a proposal to the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh for the design and implementation of an onsite composting system and a proposal to Chatham University for the sustainable rebid of their waste management contract. Through an internship with Union Project, a community based arts center located in Pittsburgh, I am currently working to complete a landscape assessment project focused on analyzing the intersection of art, social justice and community need.

By modeling and offering a different way of living, changing ideas on how we value our time, energy and other resources, we might be able to address, and change for the better, these large and complex problems, one local community at a time.

Ziggy Osiecki, MSUS '15

Ziggy Osiecki, MSUS '15

I’ve had many influences in my life that have guided me towards a future in sustainability but I believe that it was my childhood spent at my grandparent’s home in the Laurel Mountains that really gave me the appreciation for nature and natural living that I hope to pass on with my career in sustainability. During my undergraduate education I took a class on Environmental Politics that changed the way I looked at my beloved Laurel Mountains. The environmental history of our nation has not been kind and the realization that Pennsylvania has been clear-cut several times greatly troubled me, however it was a trip to Hearts Content, a mere 120 acre patch of old growth forest, that really brought it all together. Three hundred and fifty foot eastern white pines towered over the mixed deciduous forest, the soft moss covered earth beneath the canopy and the rich smell of pine transported me to another time when the east coast was covered in these giants. I felt like I was finally home, and then the trail ended and I was back in the parking lot. From that moment on I knew that if I could save just one tree then I will have lived a meaningful life.

As I searched for graduate programs I came across Chatham’s Master of Sustainability program and knew immediately that this is the direction I was meant to take. As an undergraduate I studied history as my major but had also taken many courses in anthropology and philosophy. The fact that I would be able to pursue sustainability while incorporating my love of these other subjects really made this the perfect fit for me. It is my intention to pursue sustainable development through the use of drastically alternative building materials such as cob housing and rammed earth in an attempt to lessen the impact of construction markets while also investigating building code and regulation that inhibit the use of alternative materials and methods. After completion of this degree I intend to continue my education and undertake the trials of a doctorate degree.

Kyla Scherr, MSUS '15

Kyla Scherr, MSUS '15

I chose to pursue a Masters in Sustainability because the interdisciplinary aspect of the program offered me a chance to fully explore my interests, and the compassionate faculty and their commitment to sustainable principles attracted me to Chatham. Coming from a scientific background in Conservation and Wildlife Management, I want to hone my skills in social disciplines because people can both block and facilitate environmental policy. As a student here, I feel privileged to work collaboratively with others who can create art because I think this can be an invaluable way to reach people across language and ideological barriers. Ultimately, I hope that I can use citizen science and nature therapy to involve urban communities in ecological research and make them feel invested in its outcomes. I believe this program will allow me to do this and more!

Jenny Wittann, MSUS '16

Jenny Wittann, MSUS '16

Sustainability is nothing that just happens – it has to be structurally embedded, transparently managed and consciously supported by everyone throughout all levels of a society because it is environmentally, socially and economically profitable!

That is what I believe in! I am pursuing this Master of Sustainability to further develop my professional skills to become an effective corporate sustainability officer in a multinational firm after graduation in May 2016. The main focus of my studies lies on sustainable business practices, competitive innovation and transdisciplinary collaboration with a strong interest in project management and stakeholder engagement. Currently, I am studying approaches to effectively implement corporate responsibility in committed international businesses. This Master's helps me to demonstrate and utilize my skills in client-based projects, strengthen my transdisciplinary understanding of the triple bottom line and develop a healthy and time-efficient work life balance.

Despite having a Swedish-German background, I hold a B.A. in Scandinavian Studies and a B.S. in Business Administration from Humboldt University, Berlin. Following my second Bachelor's thesis (on sustainable management systems) I worked with a multinational corporation in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) department for a year to gain more professional work experience before joining Chatham for my final studies.

Eric Autenreith, MSUS '14

Eric Autenreith, MSUS '14

I grew up in Glenshaw, PA, right about halfway between Chatham‘s Shadyside campus and the Eden Hall Campus. I moved to southern West Virginia in 1982 and for 22 years worked as a whitewater raft guide. Recently, the biggest environmental and justice threat to our community has arrived in the form of mountain-top removal mining and the Marcellus shale fracking – two very powerful industries that present us with difficult decisions in need of smart solutions.

I am in this Sustainability program because I feel I can see the problems and possible solutions, but felt overwhelmed and ineffective in making any meaningful change to the injustice of corporate-controlled government. It seems that where decision-making is transparent, equity in governance and other issues of sustainability will follow. I am inspired by the example of Rachel Carson and her scientist activism and the intelligence and energy of my teachers and Dean. I have a sense of being in good company – I love the diversity and good, fun, and funny character of all my classmates. A few of us may not have it all figured out but we’re pretty sure this is the right place to be.

Evelyn Mann MSUS '14

Evelyn Mann MSUS '14

Why sustainability? I'm a logical thinker. We only have one planet, thus we should have an attitude of conservation and a desire to sustain what we've been given as long as possible.

I hold two Bachelor's Degrees - Chemistry and Civil Engineering. I used to see Sustainability as falling somewhere in the middle of the spectrum that runs from Tree-Hugging Activist to Environmental Engineer, which is where I believe I stand. I have come to realize that Sustainability is not even on the spectrum, but encompasses the whole of it. The potential for creativity and innovation in Sustainability is immense (and very inspiring).

After graduation I'd like to work either with stubborn adults, attempting to subtly persuade them to adopt more sustainable practices ("corporate sustainability"), or with impressionable youngsters, helping the next generation to adopt practices and an attitude so as to leave a burgeoning legacy of sustainability.

Sarah Menz, MSUS '14

Sarah Menz, MSUS '14

When I read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring for the first time during my junior year of college, I was smitten. I was studying literature at the time, and the idea of writing about environmental issues for a wide audience fascinated me. As a summer writing fellow at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute for Environmental Education, I was finally given the time and space to explore my interest and even try my hand at nature writing. I began researching graduate programs in creative writing, but something just didn’t feel right. Though I wanted to help communicate environmental concerns, I was more interested in understanding them for myself so that I could help search for and implement solutions. Chatham Master of Sustainability program offered me a way to do just that – without giving up on my love of writing. The program has allowed me to dive deeper into the issues I was already passionate about (climate change, sustainable housing options, and transportation, to name a few) and identify ways for me to contribute – all while building towards a rewarding career. I’m thrilled to be a part of this new program where I have the chance to determine my own educational focus and see the rise of the first wholly sustainable campus.

Gina Mucciolo, MSUS '14

Gina Mucciolo, MSUS '14

While earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Interior Design, I began to realize that making positive changes goes beyond aesthetics. I became obsessed with one thing - the potential to have a positive impact on the lives of others. I wanted to learn what caused people to make unsustainable and ultimately unhealthy decisions - not only for themselves, but for others in their communities as well. I began to realize that some environmental issues are also equally social and economic issues; essentially, what we place our values on as a society determines how we live. This expands beyond our lives within our own homes to our neighborhoods and cities.

As a transit rider, bicyclist, outdoor enthusiast, and resident of Downtown Pittsburgh, I’ve visited many neighborhoods around our city and have become immersed in issues such as sustainable regional planning, multi-modal transportation and access, and food security - as well as the possibilities for research, education, and community development initiatives to address these growing challenges. Through my passion for transit and access, I aim to bring a high quality of life to many neighborhoods and help develop a better connected vision of sustainable communities in the Pittsburgh region - and wherever else life takes me!

Miriam Parson, MSUS '14

Miriam Parson, MSUS '14

I am a program manager with over six years experience innovating and leading sustainability, community development, policy, and service-learning projects. I believe strongly in the power of networks and collaboration to leverage resources and better serve our communities’ sustainable futures. Currently, I lead SCA’s Green Cities Corps program in Pittsburgh, managing Sustainability Fellows across strategic partnerships to increase citywide sustainability.

In my graduate work with Chatham’s MSUS program, I’m interested in collaborative leadership and nudging leverage points. My thesis project deals with ecosystem services valuation and how organizations mobilize this expanded benefits accounting. After graduation, I plan to continue collaborating across the Pittsburgh region’s green renaissance.

Ann Payne, MSUS '14

Ann Payne, MSUS '14

Sustainability has always had a presence in my life and consciousness, it is more than an idea or long word, it is a necessity for the world. Because it is something that is so needed in all aspects of life, it's broadness and multi-entry nature was the largest appeal for me to pursue a professional degree in solidly learning its basic principles, and real world applications.

I grew up in Louisiana, and came to the Chatham Sustainability Masters program after completing a BA in Journalism/Public Relations from Baylor University deep in the heart of Texas, with minors in Studio Art, Museum Studies, and Music. After a year working as an exhibit coordinator and designer at Baylor, and running a lifestyle photography business for a few years, I wanted to tie up my formal education with something that was for me at least, the best framework for living on a finite planet - Sustainability.

I am looking to create a career in the Sustainability field with a strong communications and design aspect; perhaps marketing, advertising, or museum educational exhibitions to name a few. Creating an understanding and appreciation for protection of natural resources, environments, and healthy lifestyles is my lifetime goal, and gaining a professional degree in Sustainability has bolstered my sense of direction for this all-encompassing framework for life.

Kristen Reynolds, MSUS '14

Kristen Reynolds, MSUS '14

After receiving a degree in Geosciences and Environmental Geology, I was searching for a way to bridge the gap between the science academia community and the general public. Sustainability consisted of all the tools, ideas, and structure I felt that I needed to begin building this bridge. As a water nerd, Pittsburgh’s three rivers offered me an ideal setting to study sustainability and water resources. Chatham University’s Masters in Sustainability program allows me to add a layer of creativity and innovation to my science driven mind.

Being surrounded by a classroom full of students with diverse undergraduate degrees, we are able to teach each other and see how collaboration across disciplines really works. Each class has an action oriented assignment or project that allows students to participate in the community, implement ideas, and experience things first hand.

I like to consider myself as a well-travelled women and thankfully, my studies have supported many of those experiences. From place to place, I have observed that people’s knowledge and perception about their water resources varies tremendously. Blending sustainability and water resources has allowed me to think about the systems that influence our interactions and relationships with water.

James Snow, MSUS '14

James Snow, MSUS '14

With the complexity of environmental issues facing us today, the ideal graduate program provides students with the skill sets, tools and critical thinking approaches necessary to propose innovative solutions. In addition to this, the ideal program also allows you to define and pursue your personal and professional goals, while preparing you for a solid career in a sometimes volatile market. The Master of Sustainability program does just that, and more. A great aspect about the MSUS program, (and one that lead to my enrollment) is its trans-disciplinary make up. As a rural farmer turned urban planner, it is essential that I approach ecological issues within the built environment with a team of individuals ranging from engineers to visual artists. No one person ever has the right answer, and that right answer never comes from only one background. After I graduate, it is my hope that I will continue my work in the non-profit or public sector creating vibrant and sustainable communities that are open and available to all. Author Jane Jacobs once said, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” It is my intention to create sustainable and vibrant communities that guarantee this very capability for generations to come.