Skip to main content

Love of nature prompted ASU graduate to pursue sustainability degree

May 07, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

On a family trip to Hawaii, Arizona State University student Mackenzie McGuffie fell in love with nature and began to appreciate the biodiversity that connected her to nature.

So she changed her major to sustainability.

During her time at ASU, McGuffie joined "green" ASU clubs and got a job as a student worker for the School of Sustainability. McGuffie graduates in May and is now preparing for the accelerated master’s program, which she hopes to complete in 2019.

Question: How did the School of Sustainability prepare you, personally and professionally?

Answer: The project-based nature of most sustainability classes has really helped me prepare for jobs after college. Having experience creating, managing and following through with projects has helped a lot with my personal and professional development.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: My views on food have entirely changed since starting at ASU. As long as it tasted good, food was something I didn’t give much thought to. Freshman year, I took a Sustainable Food and Farms class that opened my eyes to the massive and complex food system I had been ignorant of my whole life. I was fascinated by food and so blown away by how little I knew, that I decided to make my related study in food system sustainability. As I learn more about food systems, my diet continues to shift towards the most ethical and sustainable foods I can find, and my body has never felt better than it does now.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would use the $40 million to create sustainable and affordable housing all throughout the Phoenix metro area. This is important to me because as the area continues to develop, it has been subject to gentrification and urban sprawl. Creating housing options that are affordable and sustainable would have a great impact on the environment as well as reverse the gentrification that exists in Arizona.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those currently studying (or interested in studying) sustainability at ASU?

A: Try new things to find your passion. There is so much to be done in sustainability, so it’s important to figure out what you like and will make you happiest working on.

More Environment and sustainability


Close-up image of a water drop splashing into water

ASU summit calls for innovations in atmospheric water harvesting technology

As questions about water resources and access continue to build in the Southwest, some experts are turning to an unlikely place…

February 27, 2024
Headshot of Rajul (Raj) Pandya

Rajul Pandya joins Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College to lead Global Futures Education Lab

Rajul “Raj” Pandya has joined Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College as the Fulton Presidential Professor of…

February 26, 2024
Group of ASU faculty pose for a photo.

ASU faculty honored for contributions to extreme heat research

In a remarkable recognition of their contributions to the field of geographical research, several faculty and researchers from…

February 23, 2024