Sure, senior Malcolm McPherson enjoyed nature, but he acknowledged that he had never really thought of himself as someone invested in environmental issues. And here he was, one of 36 seniors receiving a Global & Environmental Studies Certificate (GESC) on Monday, May 22.
Malcolm said a conversation with Sarah Griggs, associate director of the Alvord Center for Global & Environmental Studies and a science teacher, changed his thinking. She talked about taking environmental issues personally.
And that’s what Malcolm and the 35 other seniors in the program did. They found an issue about which they could be passionate, one they could take personally, and that became their capstone project. Malcolm and Bridget Hickey shared their experience as student speakers at Monday’s ceremony, held on the stairs leading to the Meadows.
The projects ranged from Malcolm’s participation in a group capstone looking at the Loomis Chaffee carbon footprint to a Farmington River cleanup headed by Bridget, whose appreciation for the local waterways was heightened last summer when she was part of a Loomis Chaffee group that spent a week in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and canoed down the Connecticut River.
The projects were many and varied and can be found on this website, which highlights the work of all the graduates of the program. The website also will be featured in the Friday, May 26, version of Pelican Pride.
The GESC recognizes coursework, co-curricular engagement, and experiential learning focused on fulfilling the mission of the Alvord Center to develop globally and environmentally engaged citizens through programming that enhances understanding and teaches action-oriented skills.
In his address, Malcolm told his classmates “to continue to use the question of how one can make the issues personal as a vehicle for growth and self-reflection. … Being a global scholar is about being willing to learn from the beliefs and perspectives of others, so no matter what you do or where you go, I urge you all to keep that willingness with you.”
Bridget, in her remarks, described ways she has grown through her engagement with the natural world. “I have learned about the importance of place and about the interconnected nature of our society,” she said. “I have become an advocate for our environment.”
The graduates of the program learned about teamwork, too, whether through joint capstone projects or by spending part of Monday’s ceremonies “taking action,” a major theme of the program. Some of the students planted trees near the solar array on campus. Others remained in the Meadows to help plant pollinators and rescue a wetland raft that had drifted away from the Cow Pond. This task helped bring Rebecca Fowler’s capstone project to completion. She had researched pollinator plants native to Connecticut that could be planted on a floating wetland in the Cow Pond.
The floating wetland had been installed by a student years ago, but when heavy rains flooded the area around the Cow Pond this spring, the floating wetland became untethered and, true to its name, floated out of the pond. It became stranded when the flood waters receded. The students planted the pollinators and then returned the floating wetland to its home in the pond. With pushing and pulling, hooting and hollering, the mission was accomplished.
The 36 seniors who earned Global & Environmental Studies Certificates were:
Ellie Abrams, Sangwook "Alex" Ahn, Allison "Alli" Benthien, Drew Biller, Hana Bois, Grace Coyne, Edward DeVos, Fay El-Jeaan, Hana Elmousely, Fernando Flores, Josephine "Josie" Foley, Rebecca Fowler, Terrence "Tarrey" Fuller, Alexandra "Alex" Fuller, Gillian Grant, Maggie Hamel, Bridget Hickey, Madison Hua, Grace Johnson, Nathaniel "Nate" Judson, Xiyuan (Dora) Lin, Dhruv Mahajan, Avery Martin, Martha "Mattie" McCann, Malcolm McPherson, Alessandro "Sandro" Mocciolo, Abhiram Muthavarapu, Gautham Narendar, Madison Oh, Calvin Pan, Rene Russell, Karly Saliba, Zoe Santilli, Yerkezhan "Jane" Smagulova, Nell Williams, and Susan "Mattie" Wright.