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Student finds her place at ASU, Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives

ASU sustainability junior, Isabelle Lishewski
February 17, 2014

Editor's Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about student excellence at the university. To read more about some of ASU's outstanding students, click here.

Ask Isabelle Lishewski what her favorite part of being a student at Arizona State University is, and pat comes the reply, “Telling my Sun Devil story to a group of high school students and their families while walking backwards during a campus tour.”

The Toledo, Ohio, native considers her Sun Devil story nothing short of a serendipitous journey thus far.

As a student worker at the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives (WSSI), Lishewski has been a participant, as well as witness, to the hard work that has gone into organizing the first-ever Sustainability Solutions Festival. The event is one of WSSI’s eight programs designed to support sustainability research, develop solutions, build a global sustainability network and groom the next generation of sustainability leaders.

“As part of the Walton Initiatives team, I am working on many of the smaller details that ultimately ensure that an event is successful,” said Lishewski, a student at both the School of Sustainability, and the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. “The festival is a chance to celebrate the achievements ASU and the community have accomplished thus far in sustainability, as well as ignite creative thinking for the future.”

One event in particular Lishewski is excited about is GreenBiz University, a shadow conference that will be held on campus, and will simulcast the real GreenBiz Forum that includes speakers like The Nature Conservancy’s Mark Tercek and actress Jessica Alba of The Honest Company, which sells eco-friendly, family-oriented products.

“As a student, I am thrilled for a chance to listen to and watch top business leaders discuss sustainability trends and future solutions,” she said. “The festival has also been a great opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals, discover my own interests and see how the creative process works.”

However, sustainability was not always on Lishewski’s radar. Her Sun Devil story began when the junior visited ASU with her parents as a high school senior.

“I hadn’t even heard of the word ‘sustainability’ until I visited ASU and stumbled upon an information session,” she said. “I had always been mindful of the environment and aware of my actions, but as I learned more, I knew sustainability was my calling and opportunity to create a meaningful change in the world.”

Soon after joining ASU, Lishewski decided to pursue an additional major in urban planning.

“I am fascinated by cities and love exploring the systems that exist within,” she said. “Sustainability is largely about how humans interact with their environment, so if we can better understand this relationship, we can plan more efficient and sustainable cities for the future.”

Lishewski has also supplemented her coursework with volunteer opportunities in various campus sustainability student organizations, zero-waste events and campus tours. In the long run, she hopes to own a small sustainability business involved in community outreach or corporate social responsibility initiatives.

“Moving across the country to join ASU has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” she said. “ASU has opened my mind to new possibilities in terms of career opportunities and my personal goals. I’ve truly found my place here."