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Sustainability graduate wants to preserve outdoors for future generations

May 07, 2018

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

Living near a nature preserve in Wisconsin, Tara Hansen spent much of her childhood in nature. Wanting future generations to experience the outdoors like she did, Hansen applied to Arizona State University's School of Sustainability.

During her time at Arizona State University, she became an ambassador for the School of Sustainability. She also tacked on a second major: supply chain management, with a focus on mitigating the effects our food system has on the environment.

After graduation this May, and a brief vacation to Japan, Hansen will be working toward making a more sustainable sourcing process for Frito Lay.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study sustainability?

Answer: I have always had an interest in the environment. I used to live across the street from a nature preserve and would spend my days out in the forest collecting bugs and climbing trees. When I got older, I knew that we had to change our ways if other kids were going to get the chance to enjoy nature like I did. I wanted to change the structure of big business so that companies could be more environmentally conscious. This passion lead me to the School of Sustainability at ASU.

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

A: Be yourself and let your passions guide you. There are so many great ways to integrate sustainability into the world, so find what interests you and run with it no matter what anyone says. You may run into a lot of obstacles and people that say no in the real world. But I have found that when your passion shines through, no matter how many times you are told no, you can make a difference.

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

A: I was privileged enough to study abroad in Nepal with the School of Sustainability. During this trip, we saw many people come from around the world to help with the earthquake relief. The one thing that people didn't understand is that many of the native people have lived through multiple earthquakes and have ideas in place to help solve the problems at hand, but they were never asked to help. This showed me how collaboration is key when solving problems effectively. I now integrate this lesson into my everyday life whenever possible.

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