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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.

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