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UD’s Hanley Sustainability Institute launches new mentorship program

By Kassidy Lammers ’24

University of Dayton student Elizabeth Philip is advancing projects and exploring her professional interests through a new Hanley Sustainability Institute program that connects sustainability student leaders with local sustainability professionals.

“There are all of these really cool connections that we can make through the Hanley,” said Philip, a junior international studies and sustainability major from Dayton. “Because of those connections, we can really change campus. We have the people, we have the support and we have the networks.”

Philip, a Hanley sustainability student leader, is working with Meg Maloney ’18, sustainability specialist for the City of Dayton, through the mentorship program. The program provides experiential learning opportunities that allow students to gain necessary knowledge and skills for a career in sustainability.

“The mentorship program aims to give vocational and professional development opportunities to students outside of their classwork,” said Sarah Richard, the institute’s student engagement coordinator. “It’s an effort to help our students feel supported when they’re going on the career journey.”

Founded in 2014, the Hanley Sustainability Institute offers students research opportunities and hands-on education about sustainability on campus and in the Dayton community. It is also the only institute on campus with its own major, though students of all disciplines can be involved.

Mentors for the program range from urban agricultural workers to executive directors of organizations. Topics students discuss with their mentors might include resume reviews, job search tactics, workplace culture and how to create a work-life balance.

Philip said she has formed a tight bond with Maloney during her mentorship, which started in August 2022.

“Because of our age, interests and other commonalities between us, I can just talk to her,” Philip said. “It’s not intimidating. I’m not afraid to talk to her and I can be honest about everything. She’s a really great resource for career questions and academics.”

Maloney said working with Philip has been mutually beneficial and has helped her grow in her career as a sustainability professional.

“It is inspiring to work with the next generation of leaders,” Maloney said. “They push me to think more critically about my sustainability work. I hope Elizabeth has gained good advice and guidance from me, but I can also say that I have received great advice and guidance from her as well.”

Elizabeth Philip with her HSI group

Elizabeth Philip (right) poses with other student sustainability leaders in a new Hanley Sustainability Institute program.

Most recently, Maloney has helped advise Philip on the graduate school application process, making the process easier to understand. Maloney earned a master’s in environmental science and sustainability from UD in 2021. 

As part of the mentorship program, students are enrolled in a one-credit minicourse where they manage programs and original projects related to sustainability on campus and in the Dayton community. The program includes teams for food systems, education and engagement, zero-waste, sustainable systems and energy.

“Some of these topics are things that students will talk about in their general curriculum,” Richard said. “In this program, we get to treat campus as a learning lab. It’s really great, we get to take the theories learned in class, and actually apply them to our campus community.”

Philip works as part of the sustainable systems team, which is working on the Flyer Enterprises sustainability consulting project. The project focuses on creating initiatives and a sustainability plan to help make Flyer Enterprises, one of the nation’s largest student-run corporations, more sustainable.

Philip has also created a personal project through the institute that aims to make campus offices more sustainable.

“It’s called office ecology,” she said. “It’s pretty much sustainable consulting with different offices around campus. I look at their energy and paper usage, and essentially make a resource guide for how to be more sustainable in the office.”

Philip said her involvement in the Hanley mentorship program has provided her with meaningful real-world experience, close relationships, and guidance that will help advance her future career plans in sustainability.

“This is the highlight of my educational experience at UD,” she said. “With this program, I am actually able to do something. I am not just waiting for someone else to change the world. We have this ability to actually make the changes we want to see.”

For more information, visit the Hanley Sustainability Institute website.

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