University of South Florida

Patel College of Global Sustainability

Making a Difference in the World

News and Events

PCGS Student Profiles

Tyrek royal

A shift to a holistic perspective

Tyrek with Lab Coat and Goggles

As a scientist for Hillsborough County, Tyrek Royal conducts microbiological, total suspended solids, and biochemical oxygen demand analysis to make sure county residents have access to safe drinking water and that the treatment and disposal/usage of wastewater is safely re-entered into the environment. 

Tyrek Royal works as an environmental scientist for Hillsborough County, analyzing drinking water and wastewater. But once he began studying climate mitigation and adaptation at the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability, his perspective began to shift.

“My view on sustainability was always focused on the environmental aspects,” says Royal, who just completed his studies and graduated on Dec. 9. “Once I started my graduate studies, I realized how holistic sustainability is. It encompasses renewable energy, strategic resource usage, affordable housing, adequate education, access to food, drinking water, and more. I learned that sustainability is about the betterment of us, the people.”  

The wide range of processes he has studied hands-on through PCGS, from aerobic digestion to turning recycled glass into art, has convinced Royal that it’s not too late to make a difference through sustainability. 

Age: 29 
 
Background:  Tampa, Fl., born and raised. I was always intrigued about environmental science. In high school, I took AP environmental science and was in distress over the state our environment was in. Going into college, I traveled the U.S., studying the ecology and geology of the region, and began to love the environment even more. Patel College shifted my perspective on sustainability. Prior to Patel College, my view on sustainability was always focused on the environmental aspects. Once I started my graduate studies, I realized how holistic sustainability is. It encompasses renewable energy, strategic resource usage, affordable housing, adequate education, access to food, drinking water, and more. I learned that sustainability is about the betterment of us, the people.  
 
Describe your current work as an environmental scientist at Hillsborough County: 
My current work includes the analysis of municipal drinking water and wastewater. I conduct microbiological, total suspended solids, and biochemical oxygen demand analysis. This analysis is a critical part of ensuring that Hillsborough County residents have access to safe drinking water and that the treatment and disposal/usage of wastewater is safely re-entered into the environment. 

Tyrek at Graduation

Royal graduated from PCGS on Dec. 9, 2023, with a concentration in climate mitigation and adaptation. 


  
How does your current work and your previous work as an organic analyst inform your pursuits in sustainability? 
My previous work and current work have very similar job duties (just different titles). As an organic analyst, I tested for petroleum, acidic acids, poly aromatic hydrocarbons, and pesticides in drinking water, surface water, and soil. All of these analyses are critical for ensuring that the environment is safe from pollution.   
 
Education:  
Bachelor of arts in Interdisciplinary Sciences: Environmental Science and Policy & Anthropology; Master of Sustainability  
  
Sustainability concentration at PCGS: 
Climate Mitigation and Adaptation 
 
Why are you interested in this area?  
Our climate is ever-changing; I'd like to make a difference where I can for the survival and comfort of future generations.  
 
How did you choose to come to PCGS? 
I browsed the USF catalog and saw the program. It sounded intriguing. I have a background in environmental science and noticed that PCGS programs were interdisciplinary; that was really great to see.   
 
Key focus of your studies/projects: 
Anerobic digestion, aerobic digestion, aquaponics, recycling (crushed glass, shredded plastics).  
 
What has been the most rewarding outcome/learning from your work at PCGS? 
The people and students at the college. Everyone I have met at PCGS is a very motivated individual, willing to share what they know regarding sustainability. The professors not only teach you, but they also allow you to work on real-world projects.  
 
What has been the most challenging thing about your work on your global sustainability degree? 
There are so many issues we are facing as a society. It was hard to focus on one topic instead of trying to solve the world's problems during the graduate program.  

How did your studies at PCGS help you in your work at Hillsborough? 
My studies helped my work at the county by helping me to realize how important the work I do is. Every aliquot I receive is not just another "sample," it's someone’s livelihood.   

What do you do outside of class to enrich your experience here -- any hobbies or community activities you like to explore? 
I am practicing composting (aerobic digestion) and indoor aquaponics.  

What's next after graduation? 
I hope to expand my reach in sustainability. I would like to work on more projects such as obtaining a patent for crushed glass/plastic/concrete mixture at Rosebud Continuum.  
 
Ultimate goals professionally: 
I would like to see something I do in the field make a positive impact on someone’s life, no matter how big or small.  
 
What motivates you? 
Seeing results. At Rosebud, we started with piles of trash and glass bottles; after teamwork and time, we transformed that pile of "garbage" into a beautiful piece of artwork. 

What is your advice to young students studying sustainability today? 
Keep an open mind. When facing a challenge, remember to take a holistic approach. And no matter what you hear, we can make a difference. And it's not too late to save the world. 


Jirayu Saengthawee

Raising awareness, crafting change

Bas Student Photo

“My primary focus revolves around sustainable business endeavors — crafting innovative models that not only thrive economically but also prioritize environmental preservation and the well-being of local communities. … Given the opportunity I've been blessed with, I'm driven to be a catalyst for change, particularly in advocating for education and uplifting social status.”  USF PCGS photo by Carol Blair 

The contrast between rural Thai traditions and urban sustainability principles nurtured Jirayu Saengthawee’s belief in the need to combine modern methods with environmental awareness, with the goal of owning a business in the food industry focused on sustainability. 

Age: 26  
 
Background: In the rural areas of Thailand where I spent my childhood, I observed communities depending on agriculture without advanced technology. This early experience influenced how I perceived the intricate connection between people and their surroundings. Upon moving to the city for my undergraduate education, I was introduced to the idea of sustainability. This revelation sparked a deep interest in me, prompting a thorough exploration of sustainability concepts. The contrast between rural traditions and urban sustainability principles greatly influenced my belief in the need to combine modern methods with environmental awareness for a harmonious future. 
 
Work history: 
Charoen Pokphand Food Public Company Limited (CPF) in Thailand 
Future Leaders Development Program: Management Trainee  
Lotus’s (CP Group) in Thailand (retail) 
Potential Leaders Development Program: Project Manager  
 
Education: Bachelor of Arts, specializing in Russian studies program at Thammasat University, Thailand 
 
Sustainability concentration: Sustainable Business  
 
How did you choose to come to PCGS?
My decision to join PCGS was inspired by a friend in Thailand who shared a passion for sustainability, leading me to discover this field. In addition, while studying at Thammasat University, the mandatory "Life and Sustainability" course was a turning point. Collaborating with students from diverse majors broadened my horizons, fostering connections and embracing a spectrum of ideas. It was an eye-opener, revealing the critical importance of sustainability. After exploring details about PCGS, discovering its robust dedication to sustainability, and its proactive encouragement of student involvement in these pivotal matters, I was deeply inspired to become a member of this college. 
 
Key focus of your studies/projects:  
My primary focus revolves around sustainable business endeavors — crafting innovative models that not only thrive economically but also prioritize environmental preservation and the well-being of local communities. 
 
What has been the most rewarding outcome/learning from your work at PCGS so far?
Outside of academic pursuits, the most gratifying aspect of my time at PCGS has been the feeling of being part of a college that feels like family. It's more than just a study environment—it is a space where my perspectives and insights are valued and embraced. Serving as a PCGS Ambassador and engaging in numerous collaborative initiatives has brought me immense fulfillment. The chance to connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds, foster teamwork, and advocate for sustainability among new audiences has truly enriched my experience at PCGS. 
 
What has been the most challenging thing about your work on your global sustainability degree so far?
The most daunting challenge I've encountered in pursuing my global sustainability degree is inspiring widespread awareness and understanding about environmental issues. Sustainability, though pivotal, remains a relatively new and misunderstood concept for many. As a PCGS student, my aim is to contribute to a global movement that raises consciousness about these crucial matters. Even though the impacts I make may seem small, I hold a steadfast belief that they form the bedrock for a future of sustainability, where combined endeavors spark substantial transformation. 
 
What do you do outside of class to enrich your experience here -- any hobbies or community activities or things you like to explore?
Outside of class, I actively engage in volunteering activities, including working at a Thai temple market, to broaden my horizons. Investing my time in volunteer work allows me to explore unfamiliar territories, gaining profound insights and a deeper understanding of global occurrences. It's these experiences that grant me a broader perspective and a more comprehensive grasp of global events. 
 
What is your impression of living and studying in the U.S. vs. your undergraduate experiences in Thailand?
I would say the U.S. encourages open discussions and free expression, which I value. Conversely, in my culture, some ideas face restrictions due to societal norms. I admire the U.S. for embracing diverse viewpoints, fostering respectful debates instead of limiting expression. This environment allows for a richer exchange of ideas and diverse perspectives to thrive. 
 
What's next after graduation?
After graduation, my aspiration is to delve into the realm of sustainable business, specializing in making a tangible difference. Given the opportunity, I'm also keen on dedicating time to nonprofit organizations focused on education and environmental impact, aiming to contribute meaningfully to these crucial domains. 
 
Ultimate goals professionally:
My ultimate professional aspiration revolves around owning my own business, possibly in the food industry, particularly one focused on sustainability. The prospect of establishing and nurturing a business aligned with my passion is a goal I deeply cherish and aspire to achieve. 
 
What motivates you?
My roots in Thailand, within a landscape of social inequality and educational barriers, serve as a constant reminder of the struggles many face. It is this stark reality of poverty entangled with limited educational access that propels me forward. Given the opportunity I've been blessed with, I'm driven to be a catalyst for change, particularly in advocating for education and uplifting social status. This purpose ignites my passion, urging me to use my journey as a testament to the belief that regardless of our origins, self-belief can lead us to the right place at the right time. 


Lisa Leseigneur

Seeking to protect habitats as a key to sustainability

Lisa

"The most rewarding outcome of studying at PCGS is the opportunity we have to be heard," said PCGS student Lisa Leseigneur.

Growing up in a tourist mecca in the North of France, Leseigneur saw the negative impacts tourism had on the environment. Her projects at PCGS have focused on the protection and the conservation of wildlife and its habitat. She wants to promote the history of a place, the major role of biodiversity, and its importance in protecting it when people visit a place.

Age: 22 

Background: I was born and raised in Cherbourg; which is located in Normandy in the North of France. 
I think seeing the neglect of the environment everywhere and its terrible effect on our health and everything surrounding us struck me. I am an enjoyer of nature and seeing it being degraded just grew interest in sustainability and I have decided that I wanted to do something to change that. 

Work history:
I did a couple of different jobs for a short period when I was 18 (caregiver, store clerk, volunteering for charity), but more recently, I have worked as a Stewardess on a Ferry boat traveling from France, England, and Spain and I have been a waitress at a fine dining restaurant on the island of Jersey for about 5 months before coming to PCGS. 

Education:
I graduated with a bachelor's degree in Applied Foreign Languages in June 2022 from the University of Caen Normandy and for my senior year, I did an exchange program where I have been studying at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. I started my journey at PCGS in Fall 2023 for my master's degree in global sustainability. 

Concentration: Sustainable tourism

Why are you interested in this area?
 The area I grew up in is visited by around 2 million tourists every year and it always impressed me how many people from across the world visited my hometown. I wanted to work in the tourism industry ever since I finished high school, but I was bothered by the negative impacts it had on the environment. I knew I wanted to change things and here I am! 


How did you choose to come to PCGS?
After a long reflection, I chose sustainability as my career path for my master's degree, and I started looking at the Universities in the US offering it. When I saw that PCGS at the University of South Florida was offering it, it was perfect. I wanted to go to Florida for multiple reasons (the importance of tourism and its incredible wildlife) and I applied very quickly. 

Key focus of your studies/projects: This semester, I have focused a lot of my projects on the protection and the conservation of wildlife and its habitat. I think this is a key to sustainability and I am committed to keep working on this topic which is particularly close to my heart. I also want to focus my studies on promoting the history of a place, the major role of biodiversity, and its importance in protecting it when people are visiting a place. 

What has been the most rewarding outcome/learning from your work at PCGS so far?
So far, the most rewarding outcome of studying at PCGS is the opportunity we have to be heard. Our teachers are helpful and believe that every idea we have is a project that could be conducted. It is very rewarding as we feel like we can make a true difference in the quest for sustainability. 

What has been the most challenging thing about your work on your global sustainability degree so far?
Personally, the most challenging thing when I first started my global sustainability degree was to understand what our teachers were expecting from us. I struggled to figure out what was wanted as a graduate student in sustainability as it is very different from what I am used to, but I eventually overcame this challenge very quickly. 

What do you do outside of class to enrich your experience here -- any hobbies or community activities or things you like to explore?
I love being outside so when I don't have class, I try to visit the area as much as I can, I love discovering parks and nature trails. We live in a beautiful area rich in wildlife and biodiversity and seeing its diversity when walking outside is amazing. I also learn so much when I discover these areas and it makes me want to protect it even more. I am also part of the student organization GLOBE which conducts various sustainability-oriented projects. 

Watch video lisa took of curious armadillo during florida nature walk

Video Link 

What is your impression of living and studying in Florida and Pennsylvania vs. growing up in France?
Living in the US (whether it is in Florida or Pennsylvania) is VERY different from living in France. I enjoyed growing up in France but when it came to my studies and my professional career I knew when I first started studying in Pennsylvania that I had to stay in this country. Studying here, I feel like I have more opportunities (whether it is to meet people, conduct research, and projects, or attend conferences). I learn a lot more every day, my ideas are heard, and it gives me the confidence that I probably would have never gained if I stayed in France. I do think that it was the best choice I could have made for my career. 


What's next after graduation:
After graduation, I would love to stay in Florida to work. I know it could be complicated as an international student but there is a lot to do in this area and I am more than motivated to show that I could have a positive impact on our environment and our quest for sustainability. 

Ultimate goals professionally, in sustainability or otherwise:
My professional goal would be to help promote sustainability to people and work on the conservation of wildlife and its habitat. I would love to be part of a company that promotes ecotourism options to discover Florida or help a big company go greener through the use of renewable energy, friendly materials for the ecosystem, waste reduction, and zero gas emissions. There is so much to do, and I am so excited to start my journey. 

What motivates you:
I recently lost both my parents and they had always been very supportive. They gave me values that made me interested in the protection of the environment, and they were very excited to see what I accomplished in my life, and I do think that making them proud is my biggest motivation. 


Rida Ahmed

Nurturing Nature, Helping Underserved Populations

Rida Ahmed

"I believe that every individual on this planet deserves a fulfilling and wonderful life. " - Rida Ahmed

Background:
I hail from Pakistan, the second-largest country in South Asia, where my upbringing was deeply influenced by my mother's passion for nature and my father’s emphasis on an organic diet. Growing up in a rural area, I observed my mother dedicating her free time to our huge garden, often seeking guidance from a professional gardener on seasonal plant care. My mother's love for nature, involving plants, trees, water, and animals, left a lasting mark on me, and I attribute my keen interest in the environment to this familial influence. Our family routine included evening tea in the garden, where my mother imparted wisdom on the significance of maintaining a sustainable environment. It is through her inspiration that I cultivated my enthusiasm for nature and sustainability. Now I share my learnings with my mother and father.  

Work history: 
I have 8+ years of work experience. The major employers include IBM and PricewaterhouseCoopers in Pakistan.

Education:
BSc Honors in Applied Accounting
Certified Chartered Accountant UK
Ongoing M.A. in Global Sustainability

Sustainability concentration:
Sustainable Business

Why are you interested in this area? 
Given my background in business operations & controls, audit, and accounting, I sought to broaden my knowledge by delving into sustainability. The motivation behind this decision is my desire to make a meaningful contribution to the community on a larger scale, leveraging the corporate world as a platform. I recognize the importance of integrating sustainable practices into business operations and wish to play a role in fostering environmentally and socially responsible initiatives within the corporate sector.

How did you choose to come to PCGS?
Discovering intriguing case studies on greenwashing and the varying levels of corporate environmental friendliness and social responsibility prompted me to enroll at PCGS. This area was relatively unfamiliar to me, and I was eager to gain a deeper understanding through specialized education and exploration and got admitted to PCGS after exploring it on USF website. 

Key focus of your studies/projects: Environment, Social, and Governance, research methods and methodologies and tools used to improve business processes. 

What has been the most rewarding outcome/learning from your work at PCGS so far?
The faculty, staff, and students at PCGS create an environment where every aspect of studying feels enriching. The focus is on learning and exchanging ideas and knowledge. There's no sense of pressure or unhealthy competition. Being a student and Brand Ambassador at PCGS has been incredibly fulfilling. It has given me the chance to openly share my perspectives and learn from diverse cultures, particularly in how they address sustainability-related issues. I look forward to the opportunity to collaborate with my fellow students on a meaningful initiative, working together to make a positive impact on communities globally.  

What has been the most challenging thing about your work on your global sustainability degree so far?
Conveying the concept of sustainability and the objectives of sustainability degrees has proven to be a challenge. Although there is a noticeable shift from a decade ago, there remains an urgent need to immediately affect positive changes in people's lifestyles to create a beneficial impact on the environment, well-being, and the economy. Given the ongoing global challenges, certain countries show minimal concern for the environment and well-being, primarily due to the struggle for basic survival. Consequently, collaborative efforts with global communities are essential to address and rectify these issues. 

What do you do outside of class to enrich your experience here -- any hobbies or community activities or things you like to explore?
I actively participate in volunteer activities related to food accessibility, food demonstration, and composting. Additionally, I dedicate time to reading articles and content on global sustainability to enhance my understanding of its challenges and potential solutions. Moreover, I am committed to reducing my water, ecological, and carbon footprints. 

What is your impression of living and studying in Florida and Pennsylvania vs. growing up in Pakistan?
I can interact and learn from individuals of various backgrounds and cultures in the US. The impressive level of work being undertaken here is something I was not aware of previously. So, indeed, I am acquiring substantial exposure in this setting.

What's next after graduation?
Looking forward to gaining hands-on experience in sustainable practices, ESG frameworks, and enhancing processes for sustainable business. My goal is to then apply this knowledge toward serving underprivileged and underserved communities that require immediate attention regarding sustainability-related issues. 

Ultimate goals professionally, in sustainability or otherwise:
I aim to serve underserved people, areas, and animals.  

What motivates you?
Helping others irrespective of the nature of the support needed. I believe that every individual on this planet deserves a fulfilling and wonderful life. 


Daniel Ribeiro de Souza Bianco 

Greener Future Through Action and Innovation

Daniel Bianco

"It is truly my passion. I know it is impossible for me to change the world, but I can certainly change environments that are within my reach, and I will do my best to make the world a better place, that's what motivates me." - Daniel Bianco

Age: 24 

Background: Born in São Paulo, Brazil. I grew up my entire life there. I always remember sustainability being a part of my life when I was little (not exactly with this name "sustainability"), whether at home where we had a stronger behavior of recycling everything or at school where we learned about how important it was to take care of the planet. I always had a strong sense that taking of our mother Earth should always be a top priority in our lives. Later, when I was studying for my undergraduate degree in International Relations, I got my first job, as a Government Relations & Sustainability Intern. That position opened my eyes in the sense that I discovered it was possible to work in this field, and since then I always chase sustainability around.

Work history:
My first work experience was at Mosaic, as their Government Relations & Sustainability Intern. I worked mainly monitoring regulations that could affect the company, participating in sustainability forums, and other projects, including assisting the implementation of a sustainable corporate front in the company. Then, before coming to the US, I worked as a Sustainability Analyst at Green Domus, a sustainability consultancy firm, helping companies to develop their sustainability reports and CDP questionnaires. While studying for my master's degree in Global Sustainability at USF, I worked as a Summer Intern at 3R Sustainability, another consultancy firm. Currently, I'm working as a Sustainability Intern at Greif, a global industrial packaging company. I should also mention both projects I worked with at USF, both with Drs. Haldar and Ghebremichael. The first one was funded by Publix, and our goal was to understand the environmental impact of grocery shopping bags. Currently, we're working on developing a greenhouse gas inventory and a Climate Action Plan for the Tampa Bay region. 

Education:
Undergraduate degree in International Relations at Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC-SP). Currently pursuing my master's degree in Global Sustainability at the University of South Florida (USF). 

Sustainability concentration: Sustainability Policy

Why are you interested in this area?
As my background is in International Relations, I always had an interest in the international sphere, including issues like global policy, international organizations, conflict resolution, international trade, and others. I believe policy is all over this area. In my perspective, the policy sphere is possibly the most effective way of bringing changes to our society. It is a legitimate, well-thought-out, and complex channel through where sustainability advancements can be inserted in our lives.  

How did you choose to come to PCGS?
Although I was divided between studying International Affairs or Sustainability, the fact that I was working with sustainability created in me an impulse to discover more about the field, and USF's PCGS was had one the few programs I located that were focused exclusively on sustainability. The possibility of choosing between several concentrations grabbed my attention, and I'm very happy to say that I made the right decision because I'm specializing myself in a field that only tends to grow in the future and USF's classes and experiences are giving me great knowledge to improve my professional career.

What has been the most rewarding outcome/learning from your work at PCGS so far?
Certainly, besides all the detailed knowledge I'm receiving regarding sustainability, the most rewarding learning I had so far was to take advantage of the opportunities you receive. Participating in such a great university environment, and studying this amazing field with incredible colleagues, has given me incredible opportunities in less than two years. What I've learned is that nobody will go after things for you, you have to show and trust yourself, be participative in every opportunity, and grab them as they appear. 

What has been the most challenging thing about your work on your global sustainability degree so far?
I would say that the most challenging thing about everything was to come here in the first place. For an international student, the process to apply to a university and a student visa is long and complex — it's not easy. Besides, international students have to deal with the fact that we're not using our main language in daily activities (which can be pretty challenging) and fight for their places in the corporate environment in the United States because there is a huge competition. I was nervous during my first days, but as soon as classes started I felt very welcomed, and I was gradually making new friends and having opportunities which made everything easier and lighter. 

What do you do outside of class to enrich your experience here -- What hobbies or community activities or other things do you like to explore?
The main thing that can enrich a student's experience can be quite simple: to make friends. To meet people with several different backgrounds that are studying and working in the same field as you are. You can meet colleagues everywhere, not only in the classroom. There are always external events happening, you just have to keep an eye on it. I have friends that are interested in sustainable tourism, energy, water, food, etc, and all of them have amazing previous experiences. Sharing those experiences can enrich a student more than we can imagine. Besides, I try to stay alert for opportunities, for example, going after jobs outside of the university (which can bring amazing practical knowledge), enrolling in short-term professional courses, and seizing both opportunities that Drs. Haldar and Ghebremichael gave it to me.

What is your impression of studying in the U.S. vs. your undergraduate experiences in Brazil?
What amazes me the most is the infrastructure that universities from the United States have. USF has a huge campus, and I love being a tiny part of that. Besides, I felt the difference of studying for a master's degree — compared to the undergraduate degree. Naturally, people tend to be more serious and more interested in classes, and that makes a big difference in the whole student experience. 

What's next after graduation?
My plan is to stay working in the United States for a few years. Since my visa and the Global Sustainability course allow me to work for some years after graduation, I intend to seize this opportunity and continue my professional career in sustainability. The United States can be a very good country for the development of careers, especially on a field like sustainability that constantly creates new paradigms and tendencies that usually appear in countries like the US.

Ultimate goals professionally, in sustainability or otherwise:
My ultimate goal is to become a Sustainability Director one day, and I know I still have a long way to go. I don't know exactly in which field within sustainability I want to develop my career, so I'm going where the wind takes me, seeing what I like and what I don't. Wherever I end up going, I know I want to develop sustainability strategies that will make places around me a better place.

What motivates you?
Climate change impacts are already starting to affect us. There is only time for action now, and sustainability efforts must be implemented worldwide if we want to have a chance of saving what we still have. Because of this urgency, I don't see myself working with anything else but sustainability — it is truly my passion. I know it is impossible for me to change the world, but I can certainly change environments that are within my reach, and I will do my best to make the world a better place, that's what motivates me.


Stanislaus Khoss

Embracing Heritage to Forge a Greener Future

Stan Khoss

"Growing up alongside nature and wildlife, infused with a family history of hunting and farming, laid the foundation for my commitment to sustainable living and behavior." - Stanislaus Khoss

Age: 31

Background:
I hail from Vienna, the capital city of Austria, where I spent most of my life. My maternal roots trace back to America, specifically Maryland, Baltimore. My mother was and is still my role model of living a life with having everything and nothing at the same time but being happy because of using things only if it is needed. The idyllic countryside of Austria, where I spent school holidays at my aunt's place, played a pivotal role in shaping my views on sustainability. Growing up alongside nature and wildlife, infused with a family history of hunting and farming, laid the foundation for my commitment to sustainable living and behavior.

Work history:
Project manager for renewable projects in Austria and Europe 

Education:
Mechanical Engineering and Management BSc 

Sustainability concentration:
Sustainable Energy

Why are you interested in this area?
The decision to study in Florida was a long planned and yet intentional choice. While other universities across the US and Europe beckoned, the allure of a different lifestyle, rich in sustainable opportunities, drew me to Florida. The state's unique blend of nature, wildlife, and climate presented an ideal backdrop for fostering sustainable practices.

How did you choose to come to PCGS?
My decision to join PCGS was a result of thorough research, exploration, and insights gained. The enrollment at PCGS was the culmination of a thoughtful journey. Insights also shared by Julia Pastorek, a friend and fellow student from our German educational organization, provided valuable perspectives. The appeal of a smaller, family-oriented environment at PCGS, particularly as a foreign student in a unique program, aligns with my past successful choices. The strong sense of community and support at PCGS enhances my ability to navigate circumstances effectively, creating a seamless alignment with my experiences.

Key focus of your studies/projects:
My studies revolve around sustainable energy, aiming to enhance my understanding of diverse processes. The comprehensive approach in energy classes, elucidating the interconnectedness of various elements, fuels my interest in developing independent ideas and businesses. These courses have not only altered my thought process but also emphasized the complexity of sustainable improvement, underscoring the need to comprehend nexus and concepts for a substantial impact. Exploring diverse projects allows me to broaden my knowledge and appreciate the unpredictability of different directions, fostering a proactive and open-minded approach to life's experiences.

What has been the most rewarding outcome/learning from your work at PCGS so far?
PCGS has become a second family. The warmth and camaraderie among staff, professors, and students make me feel connected from the outset. Serving as a brand ambassador has provided unique opportunities to interact with a diverse range of individuals. Participating in the 10th anniversary celebrations allowed me to engage with alumni, gaining insights into their achievements, backgrounds, and beliefs. This experience is both motivating and an honor to continue.

What has been the most challenging thing about your work on your global sustainability degree so far?
Encountering a mindset difference regarding global sustainability compared to my home country and continent has been challenging. Overcoming initial frustration, I aim to motivate others to embrace sustainable beliefs and practices, demonstrating that positive change is possible without compromising cultural roots.

What do you do outside of class to enrich your experience here -- any hobbies or community activities or things you like to explore?
My passion for exploration extends beyond academics. Engaging with different people, cultures, and traditions is vital to understanding the community and environment. A pre-program road trip allowed me to grasp the nuances of different regions, fostering a proactive approach to community sustainability involvement. Sports, socializing with friends, and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle contradict preconceived notions, challenging myself to stay active and open-minded.

What is your impression of living and studying in the U.S. vs. your undergraduate experiences in Austria?
The disparity in living standards and the challenges faced as a student without the ability to work really in the U.S. have been eye-opening. The need for a car, the isolation from society, and the struggles with basic activities like buying cheap healthy groceries underscore the differences. Contrasting with my undergraduate years I become a completely different person. I won a different mindset over the past years through experience, and I can see things with different eyes. Being independent, mature, experienced, and self-guidance during international experiences fosters apparent personal and intellectual growth.

Stan Khoss with bike

What's next after graduation?
Post-graduation, my immediate goal is to secure employment, although the specifics remain undecided. Open to opportunities, I contemplate whether to embark on a career in the U.S. or return to Europe with newfound experiences. The focus is on exploring new avenues in sustainability, emphasizing diverse perspectives, and learning from unique job possibilities.

Ultimate goals professionally, in sustainability or otherwise:
My ultimate aspiration is to establish a business, leveraging existing concepts for sustainability. Instead of inventing something new, I aim to try to identify a niche that requires adjustment to align with contemporary times and markets. The challenge lies in channeling my knowledge and passion to create something personally fulfilling, benefits both the environment and the community.

What motivates you?
Coming from one of the world's most privileged countries, I recognize the unique opportunities and societal support I've received. However, negative experiences within such systems, particularly in education, have fueled my belief in the value of hard work and consistency. My motivation stems from the conviction that, despite challenges, perseverance, an openness to new experiences, and consistent effort can lead to opportunities and personal growth.


Julia Pastorek

Harnessing Clean Energy, Protecting Our Planet

Julia Pastorek

"One important approach is to prioritize clean energy and take action to reduce pollution and protect our planet." - Julia Pastorek

Age: 26 

Background:
I was born in Leer, Germany, and spent my childhood just a few minutes away in a small town, where I enjoyed playing in our backyard every day. December marked my birthday, and it used to be snowing. Growing up, I took it for granted until the annual snow turned into freezing temperatures for a few days. Now, my birthday hovers around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. But that’s not the only thing I realized. During the summers, our family often visited the Baltic Sea—a perfect spot for swimming. However, about a decade ago, our parents forbid us to swim because there was blue-green algae, similar to the problems caused by red tide. This got me thinking about the changes in our environment. It raised questions about the warming climate in Germany, a place not traditionally known for its warmth, and made me think about the global impact on other countries. I realized that something was wrong. The shift in climate prompted me to reflect on the larger environmental issues we face. It has become clear that we are contributing to environmental pollution, but there are solutions. One important approach is to prioritize clean energy and take action to reduce pollution and protect our planet. 

Work history:
I was a site manager in technical building equipment and especially in this job, I have noticed how important sustainability is, particularly since companies are not yet dealing with it sufficiently. 

Education: BSc from the Technical University Hamburg (TUHH) in Energy and Environmental Engineering 

Sustainability concentration: Sustainable Energy 

Why are you interested in this area?
I have always been interested in technology and its impact on the environment. How can we use the available resources responsibly and find sustainable technical solutions? Climate change concerns us all and I want to be part of the solution. 

How did you choose to come to PCGS?
I have always been interested in studying abroad. After completing my bachelor's degree in energy and environmental engineering, I was certain that I wanted to learn more about renewable energies and other solutions. That's when I found the PCGS program, which seemed like the perfect opportunity to pursue my interests. 

Key focus of your studies/projects: Renewable Energy, Renewable Fuels, Green Buildings 

What has been the most rewarding outcome/learning from your work at PCGS so far?
It's difficult to pinpoint a single thing, as every day in the master's program at PCGS is a new adventure where I learn something new. However, if I had to choose, it would probably be my experiences at Rosebud. Witnessing the way TH lived completely off the grid, utilizing solar power, biodigesters, composting toilets, hydroplaning, and so much more, strengthened my belief that we can make a positive impact on the environment and work towards a greener world. 

What has been the most challenging thing about your work on your global sustainability degree so far?
To determine my future goals, I am struggling to choose an area to focus on due to numerous global issues. I want to help working towards sustainability in every area. 

What do you do outside of class to enrich your experience here?
I often visit Rosebud to observe how living off the grid without wasting anything is possible. I take my food waste to the biodigester and plastic and glass to the shredder for recycling. This makes me contemplate how everyone could adopt this lifestyle and how we can make it more accessible. Additionally, I am assisting genCLEO. Recently, we went to Tallahassee for a lobby day where we spoke to representatives about climate justice. 

What is your impression of studying in the U.S. vs. your undergraduate experiences in Germany?
It's difficult to compare my undergraduate experience in Germany with my current graduate studies. I chose to pursue graduate studies in order to expand my knowledge in sustainability and renewable energy. One major difference I've noticed is that the United States places a greater emphasis on practical experience outside of the classroom. They encourage students to be more active and find their passions. In Germany, our curriculum is more rigid, with six classes per semester instead of three. There is a greater focus on what to teach in Germany, rather than offering extra activities. 

What's next after graduation?
I want to find a job in the US to use everything I learned to make the world more sustainable even if it’s just a little bit. I don’t just want to work on things that already exist but work in a team that develops new things to make the world greener. 

Ultimate goals professionally, in sustainability or otherwise:
I want to find greener solution for every person to easily excess. 

What motivates you?
There is so much potential in the green economy. Therefore, it makes me happy to think about new solutions and ways to make people think about living more sustainable.

Return to article listing

About Department News

Welcome to the Patel College of Global Sustainability News Center – A comprehensive information network dedicated to providing you with the most compelling stories and reports on what’s happening in the vast world of Global Sustainability. Subscribe to our mailing list to see what our fellow Sustain-a-bulls are doing today!