December 23, 2015
Haley Paul is a 2010 graduate of the School of Sustainability’s Master of Science in Sustainability program, as well as a former NCAA athlete for the ASU track and field and cross country teams. She works as a water conservation specialist for the Town of Gilbert, and recently sat down with us to discuss her experience at ASU and how it led her to where she is today.
Why did you choose ASU and to get a master's in sustainability?
I wanted to focus on sustainability because I felt there was a need to explore how our everyday lives were impacting the planet. As an athlete, I paid attention to the food I put into my body. I thought studying agriculture and how we can grow food sustainably - along with the impact that food has on our health and environment - would be interesting.
For my undergraduate honors thesis at Washington State University in Pullman, WA, I examined food system scale as it related to sustainability and worked on an organic farm. When I found the School of Sustainability at ASU, I knew it would be a great degree program in which to continue my studies.
I was able to transfer my last year of NCAA track and field and cross country eligibility and run for the Sun Devils as a graduate student. As an added bonus, I was able to come home. It was a great choice!
How did your education help you get where you are now?
While writing my master’s thesis, I gained a lot of knowledge of the Groundwater Management Act, which was extremely beneficial in answering some of the questions asked during the interview for my current job.
Prior to the Town of Gilbert, I worked with UA Cooperative Extension (I landed that job because of a connection I made during a SOS workshop course). That position entailed program coordination for a green jobs training and a water conservation program for landscape professionals.
You’ve remained involved at ASU and the School of Sustainability since graduating, serving as the alumni board president and now as a co-chair for the 10th Anniversary Committee. Why do you stay so involved?
I stay involved because we need leaders! Many times we think, “Well someone else will volunteer to fill this leadership role.” But that isn’t true! We need people to step up and lead, so that’s why I wanted to be president of the SOS alumni board. I also wanted to make an impact beyond graduation. The job shadow program that allows students to see what SOS alumni are doing with their degrees is something I am really proud of the board for creating.
Also, the monthly volunteer day where students, staff and alumni mingle while helping to maintain the Escalante Community Garden is noteworthy. I am proud to see the impact that SOS and the alumni board have in the community.
It is important not to lose touch with where you spent time studying and earning your degree. I wanted to take what I studied and put it into action in the community where I live, work and play.
What importance do you see in the upcoming 10th Anniversary celebration?
I think that the celebration is important in two ways. It serves as a reminder to look back on the last ten years and celebrate what students, staff, faculty and alumni have achieved, to tell our collective and individual stories, and to reunite with former classmates.
It also serves to tell others who we are so we can attract future students and move into the next 10 years of the School of Sustainability with more energy and passion to save the world than ever!