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Hanley Sustainability Institute

Freshman from Texas found a home at UD and in the sustainability major

By Mark Gokavi

Yamilet Perez Aragon is a Mexican-American first generation student from Austin, Texas, who chose the University of Dayton because it aligned with the values she developed growing up and spending time at her parents’ Mexican villages.

The freshman enrolled to study graphic design, but near the end of last semester she found another passion.

“I chose UD’s (Sustainability Program) as my second major because although I want to have some sort of creative expression with my graphic design major, I want to also work with an issue I really care about, so sustainability is something really important to me,” she said. “I have only been in two sustainability classes so far, but I already feel like I’ve learned so much from them. This major has really made me realize how big of an issue climate change is and how urgent it is for important steps to be taken as soon as possible.”

Perez Aragon is among the program’s first 12 majors seeking bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degrees. She’s the first person in the B.A.-food studies track.

“I’ve also learned a lot about the role of society and discrimination in creating sustainable communities where everyone can have equitable access to resources,” she said, adding she may eventually want to work for a non-profit organization and/or with a group dedicated to community resources. “I am most interested in addressing food security.”

Perez Aragon said studying from home in Texas is harder because the classes have changed, UD has good study spaces and online group projects can’t be the same as being on campus.

Perez Aragon said she likes the interdisciplinary focus of UD’s Sustainability Program and that the major is an empowering opportunity that deserves a look from high school and college students.

“In a world where the issues involved are affecting communities everywhere, including your own, it’s crucial to have a good grasp on the potential effects we are going to start facing more intensely,” she said. “Studying the effects of climate change and having to face the horrible impacts it has made can certainly bring you down, but knowing that it is up to us, now, the current generation, to fix these problems makes you not lose hope.

“If you want to feel like you’re truly making a change for the better good in the world, this is definitely the right major.”

For more sustainability news and information, visit HSI’s news blog, the Hanley Sustainability Institute website and the Sustainability Program website.

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