January 30, 2020
Inspired by his passions for nature and correcting social inequities, and fueled by his alarm at the climate crisis, Cameron Chavez Reed began his Arizona State University career determined to obtain a degree that would enable him to make a difference.
“I knew I wanted to study something that could make a difference and integrate the interdisciplinary nature of sustainability into a single program,” Reed said. “ASU’s School of Sustainability has provided me this opportunity: a program that incorporates the social, political, economic, and natural ecological aspects of the incredibly diverse and complex issue that is sustainability.”
Reed is a junior pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in sustainability and a Bachelor of Science in geology. He answered several questions about his ASU sustainability journey.
Question: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Answer: I am from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Growing up in New Mexico, I spent a lot of time outdoors, where I developed a strong passion for nature and the environment. Simultaneously, living in the Southwest has exposed me to the great number of inequities among different communities and injustices we still need to work to remediate. Beginning in middle school, I became very involved in sustainability clubs and organizations that shaped who I am today.
Q: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study sustainability?
A: When I was in high school, I grew increasingly concerned about the climate crisis and interested in the politics surrounding it. I quickly decided that studying sustainability was something I wanted to do. I had already spent so much of my life interested in it, so it was time to take it to the next level.
Q: Why did you choose the School of Sustainability?
A: When I entered college, I knew I wanted to study something that could make a difference and integrate the interdisciplinary nature of sustainability into a single program. ASU’s School of Sustainability has provided me this opportunity: a program that incorporates the social, political, economic and ecological aspects of the incredibly diverse and complex issue that is sustainability. I love the interdisciplinary nature of the school because solving the ecological and climate crisis of today requires input from all fields of research.
Q: Could you please tell us about your internship?
A: My internship is with the City of Phoenix Housing Department in Phoenix, Arizona. I am working on multiple projects related to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. This includes the development of a new RAD website for the City of Phoenix Housing Department, helping research and find solutions to bring City of Phoenix housing residents free WiFi, and finding ways to get solar installed on the same housing campuses.
Q: What are your biggest learning outcomes from participating in this experience?
A: My biggest learning outcome has been the importance of affordable and public housing to sustainable and resilient urban development. This internship has shown me that if there is to be any sustainable urban development, it must include housing as part of that development. This means creating inclusive, affordable and accessible housing for all.
Q: What do you like best about your internship?
A: I love that the projects I am working on make a difference for so many people. We can see in real time the development and progress of new housing projects and the potential they have to change lives.
Q: Any general advice or “tips for success” for future sustainability interns?
A: For future sustainability interns, I would advise to not be afraid to ask questions and to talk with your coworkers and director regularly. Communication is so important and talking with my director daily has allowed my internship to go very smoothly and to build rapport with other team members.
Q: How do you envision applying sustainability to your future career?
A: I intend to study environmental justice in an American studies program in the future, which is centered around sustainability and justice. I want to continue researching the social dimension of sustainability and environmental issues to develop solutions to the problems that plague us today.
Q: What does sustainability mean to you?
A: Sustainability to me is centered around reshaping the way we think, interact and care for the land and each other. Building a global perspective is essential to developing sustainable practices. Additionally, by caring for each other and the land more, by dismantling extractive societies in favor of caring societies, we can make progress to become more sustainable.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?
A: I would say that to make a difference, we have to stand up for others, that a mass movement is the only way to create meaningful change. Standing up for injustices, human or ecological, is how we can forge a path towards a more sustainable society.