Meet Grace, one of our amazing summer AmeriCorps members. 

Grace recently started college and went in with the desire to change the world. When thinking about what to study, she knew she wanted whatever she did in the future to have a strong impact that outlasted her life. Grace also wanted her studies to focus on her interests in the biological world. She found the perfect program at Michigan State University — Biological Systems Engineering. 

As Grace got deeper into her studies, she learned more about herself and the science behind the environment. That’s when Grace really started to understand where she could have an impact on the world.

During Grace’s first year of school, one class had a major impact on her, and her decisions — her environmental film class. In class, they learned about how film and media can impact the way environmental issues are covered. They did this mostly through watching documentaries and other forms of media and discussing it. What made it so impactful was the variety of topics covered and that a majority of the documentaries were not traditional — they weren’t in your face, guilt-tripping environmental films. 

Grace notes: “Films like that do have a place in the world, but they often make people feel more scared about the world they live in rather than inciting the change that a documentary should.”

After that class, Grace wanted to positively change the environment and the ways that people interact with it. She shifted the focus of her studies, from a broad study of Biosystems Engineering, to a more focused topic by adding a minor in environmental and sustainability studies.  

This shift of focus happened late one night, as her deadline to schedule classes for the next year was quickly approaching. Grace felt pressure like she was planning the rest of her life out with the simple planning of a year’s worth of classes. Because of the pressure she put on herself, Grace knew she needed to circle back to why she wanted to be in college and make sure she felt like the classes she was choosing had an impact that was going to be important in the future.  

With the new shift in focus, Grace gets to see how her future work as an engineer can improve our world and its ecosystems.