Before applying to colleges, Megan Kuhn ’20 had been introduced to the concept of sustainability and how mutually important design with the environment was for our health and well-being and for reducing our footprint on the planet.
She first learned about Green Mountain College through a friend and decided to apply. Megan recalled, “It was intriguing, but seemed way out of my understanding of what college was ‘supposed to be.’ She toured campus during “Do it in the Dark” week (at which time all lights are kept off and dorms compete to save the most electricity for a week). “The campus itself was charming, the ideas being discussed and practiced were inspiring and motivating, and the community was so connected and participatory,” shared Annie. She was drawn to the similar mindset that she found throughout campus, to better society through somewhat alternative education and expansion of skills, knowledge, and support for one another through community.
“Before coming to Green Mountain College, I felt as though sustainability sat on the outskirts of my life. I was unaware of my consumption and trash production rate, I took for granted the resources I had, and I did not often think about the footprint I leave behind–both socially and environmentally. Now I have introduced compost in my home in North Carolina, I reuse everything, I cook the majority of my own meals (at home), I always carry a set of utensils and a small bowl, I am aware of my own privilege and am an ally to those who are marginalized, and I am active in my community. Sustainability surrounds me, and I will put all my active effort into making sure that is the case for the rest of my life.”
Initially interested in the Renewable Energy and Ecological Design (REED) major, Megan did not know what the major entailed at first. “If I was asked three years ago I would have never though that I would be designing houses, building models, and brainstorming on how to integrate socio-economic and environmental concerns into architecture,” she said. She is primarily focused on Resilience and Social Justice through Environmental Design and Architecture and is learning about how it incorporates community planning and designing for lower-income regions across the world. “Ecological design and architecture is considered a luxury at the moment, and I’d like to deconstruct that stereotype by design for all. I am so thankful that I selected REED as a major because I have learned so much from my professors and how I can make an impact in different communities,” stated Megan.
Megan is currently a member of People Preventing Organic Waste (PPOW), a campus organization that takes preconsumed food from our dining hall and repackages and repurposes it at senior centers and within the Poultney community. Serving as treasurer of the Student Campus Greening Fund (SCGF), Megan reviews and approves proposals drawn up by students and community members to better the campus and community sustainability. The allocated money is included in student fees, so being an active part of what our money goes to allows me to feel more involved as a student. She also served as vice president of the Contra Club, an Irish Folk Dance group that brings the community together through music, and simple dances.
She believes that GMC is the #1 Sierra Magazine Cool School because of the diverse and unique perspectives that students and faculty bring from personal experience and how, regardless of their backgrounds, they all ended up here. She also acknowledges that being surrounded by a few different mountain ranges is amazing.
After graduation, Megan envisions herself traveling through various WorkAway programs (volunteering positions across the world) that are focused around eco-design houses and building community through the land. I learn best through kinesthetic learning and being able to see the direct progress and impact of a project is extremely motivating for me. The cultural exchange and interpersonal growth is another aspect of volunteering projects that is incomparable and held at the highest value in my life.
Last summer, she participated in a WorkAway on a tea farm in Nepal and shared that it was the best experience she has ever had. “If I have the ability to travel, work, learn, and engage in exchange for home grown food, shelter, and profound interaction where I can live somewhat freely from a monetary-based lifestyle, then I have to take that opportunity,” stated Megan.
She hopes to eventually either start or be a part of a design firm that focuses on community improvement and healthy living.