Skip to main content

Sustainability student, lifelong learner awarded Fulbright

Jill Brumand Headshot
April 29, 2013

When Jaleila “Jill” Brumand was in middle school, she decided she wanted to do something with her life. She had friends who were brilliant and capable and – perhaps typical of children her age – didn’t yet realize their potential.

What gets a child dreaming big dreams? For Brumand it was her brother Sam, who has Down syndrome. For Sam, a feat like tying his shoe took months to master. Brumand knew she could accomplish a lot if she applied herself with the same dedication.

“I didn’t want to be one of those students who ‘just passed’ classes,” she says. That sentiment would set the tone for her future.

Fast forward to 2009, the year Brumand, a native of Chandler, Ariz., applied to Arizona State University. Unsure what her major would be, Brumand visited the Tempe campus. On a tour of Wrigley Hall, she fell in love with the School of Sustainability, its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building, and the enthusiasm of her tour guide. This was where she wanted to be.

Brumand came to the university because it was a great value. ASU's cost was relatively lower than Franklin College Switzerland, another school she was considering, and the opportunities through Barrett, the Honors College, were significant. Brumand knew that ASU was a place where she could make a difference.

And she did.

Hands-on experience

During her sophomore year, Brumand began looking for some résumé-building experience. She connected with associate professor Kelli Larson and began work as a research intern, helping Larson study why people decide to manage their residential landscape in one way or another. The study has implications for integrating sustainability into landscaping decisions, which could have a profound impact in a desert city such as Phoenix.

Brumand has worked on the study for the past three years. The internship has given her experience working with social and hard scientists, with collaborators from other cities, and with qualitative and quantitative research methods. Her work became the basis of her honors thesis.

Also in her sophomore year, Brumand worked with Maricopa County to help them reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Brumand and Ed Burgess, a graduate student at ASU, collected and analyzed several years’ worth of data. Their work culminated in a report now published on the Maricopa County Green Government website.

Brumand also gained corporate experience during her junior year working with Dell. There, she examined the emissions created through the company’s supply chain, employee commute and other sources.

At the same time, she was gaining teaching and public speaking skills through teaching an ASU 101 course.

Just to recap: that’s research, government, corporate and teaching experience. Brumand is also an honors student and a double major in sustainability and geography, who has managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA. Clearly, she has done more than “just pass” her classes.

Brumand tips her hat to the School of Sustainability. Many schools provide opportunities for their students to get hands-on experience, she says, but the School of Sustainability goes above and beyond.

“The School of Sustainability has a network of people who care and check up on you," she says. "The support and encouragement of the faculty and staff at the school has been invaluable.”

A new opportunity

As she prepares to graduate, Brumand now boasts an outstanding résumé. Her internship experience helped her earn a Fulbright award at Lancaster University in Northwest England. After graduation, she’ll begin work on her master's degree in energy and the environment through the Lancaster Environment Centre.

Her Fulbright work will compare U.S. and U.K. energy politics, infrastructure and vulnerability to disaster – interesting work that has implications for low-carbon energy policy and decision-making here in the United States.

Brumand is the type who learns at every opportunity. This trait has served her well since her big-dreaming middle school days and no doubt contributed to her Fulbright accomplishment. But for all the honor and recognition that come with earning a Fulbright, what delighted Brumand most was her brother’s response.

Sam was the first person to call her after she received notice of her Fulbright award. He was excited to surprise her with balloons, and he was thrilled to think that his sister might get to meet Merlin, a favorite character from a U.K. television program.

“He is always so excited and optimistic,” says Brumand. “I can always learn more from him.”