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Hanley Sustainability Institute

Running down goals: UD student-athlete joins sustainability major’s energy track

By Mark Gokavi

Melissa Weidner wanted to find a college where she could run track and cross country and end up on the right track for her education. At the University of Dayton, she found both. Last year, she switched her major to sustainability.

I took one sustainability course in hopes of pursuing it as a minor,” said Weidner, a sophomore from Downers Grove (Illinois) South High School. “I fell in love with the topics that were taught and I resonated with the sustainability major.

“I am now on the energy track for sustainability with a minor in OPS (operations management).  I chose the energy track because I want to work with businesses to become more sustainable, by limiting their waste and maximizing their profit. The energy track closely relates to what I hope to pursue in the future.”

Weidner is taking classes related to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which she calls “arguably the core of sustainability.” She said it incorporates the idea of keeping the planet and people healthy.

“The key piece of advice I would give to anyone pursuing any major is to take one class your freshman year with the major you are considering and see if it clicks,” Weidner said. “In high school, I really enjoyed my environmental science class, but I was hesitant to commit to that as my major.

“My introductory sustainability class really confirmed my passion for sustainability. … I was exposed to all the sustainability tracks, which made choosing my track significantly easier.”

Weidner said she saw some of the career choices of some UD students who graduated with sustainability minors and found those professions appealing.

“Also because the major is somewhat new, I was really excited to see how up-to-date the courses in the major would be,” she said. “Sustainability is a tricky topic to learn because it is ever changing, but the professors do a great job staying up to date with current trends, as well as teaching us about past events related to sustainability.”

Weidner’s current goal is to work with a business to minimize waste such as energy use, byproducts and carbon dioxide output while maximizing profit.

“There is a huge job market for that currently, because of the new limitations that companies have, especially in regards to their carbon footprint,” she said. “I am familiar with some of the jobs that other sustainability minors have done and I am absolutely inspired by their commitment to sustainable change. On all spectrums (people, planet, economy), UD’s sustainability minors have done great things, and I hope to follow in their path.”

Weidner said UD’s track and cross country coaches reached out to her and that she learned about UD, a school she said those in the Chicago suburbs often consider.

“When I came on a campus tour, I fell in love.” she said. “I considered other schools for the same reason: strong business and sustainability programs, and my ability to run there. Then I just chose the school that felt like home.”

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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