“It’s refreshing knowing I can use what I’ve learned to solve some real-world problems.”
Swe Zaw Oo is a Green Mountain College junior from nearly 7,800-mile-away Kyaukme, Myanmar. Swe is a double major in sustainable business and REED, the renewable energy and ecological design program.
Swe became interested in architecture and design after visiting the ancient city, Bagan, in Myanmar. “I studied the architectural advancement of the ancient temples and wrote an essay about it,” she said. “That inspired me to do an internship in May 2012 with the Yangon Heritage Trust, a non-profit organization founded by the well-known author, Thant Myint U.” The Heritage Trust is a lobbying group that encourages preserving colonial buildings in Yangon, the former capital city.
Swe’s second major in sustainable business is motivated by two things: her entrepreneurial spirit and, simply, the desire for a challenge. “I challenge myself more with the second major,” she said, “and I’ve been interested in business since I was young.” After high school she tried to improve her father’s small-town green-tea business. She gave him the idea of expanding his business to the vibrant markets in major cities. “My business idea didn’t really work out when we tried. It’s interesting that the things I learned later on in the sustainable-business classes showed me where I went wrong,” she said.
Swe’s business interests manifest in her jobs on and off-campus: she is the finance manager for GMC’s student-run coffee house and the finance intern for Stone Valley Arts on Poultney’s Main Street. Additionally, she is a library assistant, a resident assistant in Moses Hall, and a member of the GMC women’s tennis team. This past summer, Swe had an internship with the Westin Brand under the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide internship program in Portland, Ore. She worked on increasing operational efficiency in the hotel’s refreshment center department by implementing inventory control and quality management tools. She was able to develop a new system that created better inter-departmental communication, improved the accuracy of guest billing and reduced waste.
“It’s actually a simple fix that I proposed. It just took a new look at the same old problem,” she said. “It was a great moment of clarity that everything I have learned from my sustainable business classes in GMC has a practical use. It’s refreshing knowing I can use what I’ve learned to solve some real-world problems,” she said.