Student Creates Outlets for Sustainable Passion

Student Creates Outlets for Sustainable Passion

Last year, junior Diana Franklin drew on her well-developed passion for sustainabilityand the environment by serving the campus in two major roles, both of which she plans to continue this year. Franklin was the team manager for the Alliance to Save Energy's (ASE) Green Campus Programat UC Merced as well as the Associated Studentsat UC Merced commissioner of sustainability.

Franklin says this has always been her passion. In high school she interned for two architecture firms, which fine-tuned her interest and narrowed her focus early. Her long-term plans include designing her managementmajor and artminor to take her on the path to a master's degree in sustainable architecture.

She embraces big pictures and small details with the same enthusiasm. "I'm excited about designing custom homes, not just the exteriors, but interior design as well, and how to utilize sustainable products throughout. I imagine designing entire schools, including dorms, classrooms, administrative buildings, you name it." This makes being a student at UC Merced, where sustainability is a watchword across the board, ideal.

As project coordinator, public relations person and team manager of Green Campus at UC Merced, Franklin is honing her project management and people management skills. Green Campus is thriving on 19 campuses across California. Franklin manages three interns using the goals and standards laid out by the ASE to help guide them through the process of initiating and organizing projects on campus related to sustainability.

"This is a paid internship that requires commitment. Each intern works independently on his or her own project," she said. "They are responsible for the entire project, from beginning to end, including all the marketing. We want them to work on a project they're passionate about. The best advice I can give anyone on the team is to think about what you're interested in and make a project out of it."

Franklin knows what she's talking about. She may be the team manager, but she still has to pull her own weight and contribute her own projects to the program. Fortunately, she has some experience with that. As a sophomore, Franklin held a Water Awareness Month campaign in honor of World Water Day on March 22, followed by the Earth Week Speakers Series in April, a four-day event featuring two guest speakers each day. Multiple elements throughout the projects had to support the dual purpose to educate and raise awareness while engaging the audience, and with that in mind, she chose the more intimate and comfortable Bobcat Lair for the speaker series and had it catered, just to provide a little extra incentive for people to show up.

"One person told me as he was leaving that it was like a breath of fresh air to get this information this way, rather than just sitting in the classroom. He really enjoyed the opportunity to learn in a different setting," Franklin said. "I got a lot of great, informal feedback, which has encouraged me to think about more formal methods for gathering feedback. I'm excited to repeat the Earth Week Speaker Series this year."

She would also like a second year serving as the ASUCM commissioner of sustainability, which means an opportunity to work on creating a better and more powerful way for student clubs to create and collaborate on events around campus. "But the Senate has to vote me in first," she said, smiling.

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