January 31, 2019
By leaving Minnesota to attend Arizona State University, junior Ally DiSera gave herself the opportunity to achieve a well-rounded sustainability education from the School of Sustainability — something she couldn’t find closer to home. “Sustainability is a human issue,” she said, so finding a program that touched on the social pillar of sustainability as well as environmental and economic pillars was important to her.
DiSera is currently pursuing dual degrees: a BA in sustainability and a BS in global supply chain management. Read the Q&A below to see how DiSera is making the most out of her time at ASU and how she plans to apply sustainability to her future career.
Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study sustainability?
A: My "aha" moment wasn't incredibly flashy. During high school I was finishing up my Girl Scout Gold Award project, which helped to reinstitute a composting and recycling program that had failed three times before at our cafeteria. I have always been interested in climate change and sustainability concepts, but I had also been interested in choir and music at the time and was struggling between the two. After finishing this project, I realized that what would fulfill me more in my life would be to make sure we have a future, and that pathway has led to sustainability here at ASU.
Q: Why did you choose ASU’s School of Sustainability?
A: Back in my home state of Minnesota, our program at the University of Minnesota, which was closest to the sustainability degree here, only touched on the environmentally friendliness of products and did not include the School of Sustainability’s social piece. It only focused on the economic and environmental pillars of sustainability. I believe that the pillars of sustainability must touch on all three aspects, including the incredibly important social piece, as sustainability is a human issue. That is how I made my decision, and I also took into consideration how renowned ASU's sustainability program is and its location in a warm state!
Q: What’s been your favorite class so far and why?
A: My favorite class thus far has been the Sustainability and Enterprise class. I finished this past fall. It was very helpful in that I felt much of what we learned in class should be used in real-world practice. As a business student on track to work with businesses who often don't see eye-to-eye with sustainability concepts for enterprise, understanding the tools to be able to have those conversations has given me a lot of confidence in the street smarts of sustainability and business.
Q: Can you talk about your involvement with Campus Student Sustainability Initiatives?
A: As a freshman we were told by many different people what we should do in college — one of which was to get involved. I saw involvement as the pathway to getting experience, and I hopped around several different clubs to try and figure out which one was worth the most of my time during my four years here. After having to choose between two clubs my sophomore year, I chose Campus Student Sustainability Initiatives. Freshman year I had started a project with CSSI (kind of pressured into it by our president — but hey it was for the best!), and within the first year and a half at ASU I struggled with commitment to my club and my project as I was busy with everything else college kids do.
But, because I had promised my freshman year president I would follow through, I did, and completed a 48-fixture project at the Sun Devil Fitness Center, saving the university $1,300 a year and about 230,000 gallons of water per year with low water-intake toilets and urinal retrofits. In addition, we worked with two different companies, the contractor Climatec and the supplier Sloan, who donated these fixtures for free! It was an amazing opportunity that wouldn't have happened if I hadn't pushed through what seemed like an endless project.
Now I am president of Campus Student Sustainability Initiatives, and am working with an amazing team of passionate students to bring sustainability to the forefront of the student populace here at ASU — more than I thought I would or could ever do. But I knew what I wanted to do — to leave a legacy here at ASU — and I did, and am continuing to do so.
Q: How do you envision applying sustainability to your future career?
A: After wanting for so long my future to be a flashy one that saves the world I now envision my future as a guide or helping hand for my generation and others before it. I look forward to the influence I can make in enterprise through supply chains, the roots of a company, and how setting a sustainable standard from the roots can have a ripple effect outwards throughout the overall company system as a whole.
Q: What does sustainability mean to you?
A: Sustainability is the future. Not necessarily protecting the future, but protecting our ability to live and sustain our lives over time. To me, it isn't about convincing others that sustainability is important, but rather framing sustainability in a way that meets people where they are at and helping them see that sustainability concepts can already been found in their values or actions.