DESIGN YOUR OWN PATH. THEN START DESIGNING SOLUTIONS.
Audrey McSain ’16 combines three different fields of study to work toward a revolutionary solution for our environment.
Moravian University’s liberal arts foundation allows students to combine skills from multiple disciplines to reach their goals. Audrey McSain ’16 utilizes this academic freedom to create an experience that has changed her forever. A unique mix of ethics, sociology, environmental policy and economics grants her the opportunity to explore her passion and chase her dreams.
McSain did not always have the environmental focus that drives her today—in fact, she didn’t even know what she wanted to study. A friend told her about Moravian University and, although she never heard of it, she decided to apply after checking the website and listening to referrals from others. On her first visit to campus, she made her decision.
“I had visited a lot of other campuses but this school just felt right,” she says. “There was something different about here.”
When McSain joined the pack without a clear career path in mind. “As a high school student I had no idea what I wanted to do,” McSain remembers. “Environmental policy and economics sounded so different, and I decided I was just going to run with it.” McSain did just that, until an on-campus speaker nearly knocked her off her feet. “One of the InFocus speakers my freshman year, Dr. Julian Agyeman, gave a lecture on ethical sustainability,” she says. “He brought in a lot of different perspectives that I never even thought about.” The speech changed McSain’s own view, inspiring her to pick up minors in ethics and sociology.
“I like the ethics part of things because it makes you think differently,” she says. “I think I owe it to the people around me not to muck up the environment. Even though I am an ethics minor, it is not the only reason we should be trying to be sustainable. We are not strictly run by ethics or economics alone. The key is trying to strike a balance.”
The idea of morally responsible environmental policy drove McSain as she began to seek out faculty and likeminded students in an attempt to change the environmental impact of our campus. It is through this self-guided channel that McSain found ECO, Moravian University’s student-run Environmental Coalition. ECO focuses on the carbon footprint and environmental and ethical impacts created by the campus and, under McSain’s leadership, has created an initiative of clean growth for the school.
“When I first got involved with ECO the fall of my sophomore year there were only two officers,” she says. Her passion and hard work as the communications officer shone true and, by the end of the semester, McSain became president of the club. Two years later, and she hasn’t slowed down one bit. “We basically started the club over from scratch,” she says. “We got the club up on its feet and into an organization that can stand on its own. I hope that, ultimately, ECO has a really great solid platform to continue to grow.”
In addition to the work McSain does across campus, many Moravian University faculty have been instrumental in her development. “It is neat to see faculty rallying around students; they just want to see you succeed and they do whatever they can to help.”
Several members of the faculty have worked tirelessly to connect her with the opportunities and experiences that would make her experience at Moravian University revolutionary: Frank Kuserk, Louise E. Juley professor of biological sciences, recommended McSain for a LeaderShape opportunity; Shari Dunham, associate professor of chemistry, was quick to provide advice and support for McSain; and Diane Husic, chair of the biological sciences department, connected McSain with United Nations Policy Analyst Sarahbeth Brockley ’10—an alumni connection that would help her land a global strategy internship with the UN.
“They were only looking for 10-20 interns on the east coast and two of us from Moravian, myself and Stephen Stoddard, got it,” she says. “I think that’s pretty cool.” During her internship, McSain will continue to look into eco-friendly solutions that are ethically sound, but on a larger scale than ever before.
Moravian University is actively changing their carbon footprint with new programs meant to reduce emissions. And with the addition of the new Green Hound Fund, a revolving fund dedicated to making sustainable updates to the University, McSain is hopeful for the campus’ future. “The whole point of the fund is that whatever is saved is put back into the fund,” she says. “It is, in itself, sustainable.” McSain’s legacy, much like the fund, is also sustainable, as she has left her mark on campus and changed her environment as a result of her focus. “You need to have a vision, but you also need to take the steps to get to that vision.”
—Chris Hassay ’17