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August 15, 2019

Sakshi HegdeSchool of Sustainability junior Sakshi Hegde has always cared about the environment. So when it was time to make a decision about what to dedicate her life to, the answer was a no-brainer.

"I knew by the time I was applying to colleges that I wanted my future career to be about protecting the environment," Hegde said. "When I learned about sustainability, I knew it exemplified what I wanted to do with my life."

In the following Q&A, get acquainted with Hegde, her work with Changemaker Central and goals for her sustainability degree.

Question: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Answer: I’m from Santa Clara, California. From 7-12th grade, I went to a small charter school, where I got to have close relationships with my classmates and teachers. As I applied to colleges, I yearned to have this small community, but I also wanted to experience a “typical” college and go to football games and homecoming rallies. When I discovered Arizona State University and its School of Sustainability, I knew that it was the perfect balance for me. A fun fact about me is that this summer I got to swim in the Dead Sea as a part of an ASU study abroad trip to Israel.

Q: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study sustainability?

A: I don’t think I had one specific “aha” moment about studying sustainability, but rather it was the culmination of all my experiences. My interest in helping the environment began as a child when my parents and I would travel to national parks in California. It was through these trips that I first understood the beauty of nature and learned the basics of earth science from park rangers. My experiences throughout high school further augmented my interest in earth science; from volunteering at park cleanups to being in charge of the recycling at my high school, I knew by the time I was applying to colleges that I wanted my future career to be about protecting the environment. When I learned about sustainability, I knew it exemplified what I wanted to do with my life. The fact that sustainability was so interdisciplinary and focused on solutions was really what drew me to it.

Q: Why did you choose ASU/the School of Sustainability? 

A: I chose ASU and the School of Sustainability because they felt like places where I could do more than just get a degree, but actually make an impact. The plethora of study abroad, internship and research opportunities available made me feel like I could do that. The fact that the School of Sustainability is small and the major encompasses everything I want to do in my life greatly contributed to my decision as well. Also, I liked that Arizona is close enough to home that I don’t feel like I went too far outside of my comfort zone, but I also get to experience a new state.

Q: What’s been your favorite class so far and why?

A: Sustainable Urban Dynamics (SOS 323) with Dr. Melnick has definitely been my favorite class so far. I enjoyed that it was discussion-based, and through our assignments we learned how sustainability was being applied in cities around the world.

Q: Can you tell us more about your work with Changemaker Central? 

A: Changemaker Central is an amazing community at ASU and it is focused on making a positive social impact through various activities. It’s a lot like the School of Sustainability in the sense that it’s a small group of people who want to make a positive difference in the world. I began as a volunteer for the Service Committee at Changemaker where I had the opportunity to coordinate ASU's monthly service days. I became a Change Agent as a sophomore, and here I get to help facilitate the space and promote Changemaker.

Q: How do you envision applying sustainability to your future career?

A: I want to use sustainability to change the world for the better. Interning for Defend Our Future Arizona taught me how to advocate for environmental policies and engage the community in these issues. As a sustainability intern at Dell, I have had the opportunity to learn more about the corporate side of sustainability and how it can be applied in a large corporation. I’m still figuring out what exactly I want my sustainability career to look like, but I hope to continue to help the environment.

Q: What does sustainability mean to you?

A: Sustainability means making a positive difference in the world, and working in interdisciplinary teams to create solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. It’s about helping the environment, economy and society.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to add? 

A: Sustainability is about solutions to real world problems, so get involved in things outside of your classes. Also, make the most of the fact that the School of Sustainability is small. Get to know your professors and classmates — they’re all really amazing people.