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Sustainability Graduate Students Celebrated at Student Showcase

May 22, 2017

Graduates in this year’s Sustainability Graduate cohort have crafted real-world sustainability solutions for local and global clients, engaged with leading officials in private and governmental agencies, discussed policy at the national level in Washington, D.C., explored the frontline of climate change challenges on the Outer Banks, and on May 6, celebrated their journey.

To honor the accomplishments of these students, program faculty as well as friends and families of the graduates came together to celebrate at Brookstown Inn. At this ceremony, students delivered their capstone projects and received post-graduate advice from program partners and alumni.

Each year, the program culminates in a final capstone project that requires students to bring both their knowledge and critical perspectives to solve real-world challenges. This year, project partners were Roian Atwood with Wrangler Jeans and Will Scott, the Yadkin Riverkeeper.

“This year in the capstone class, eight students applied Human Centered Design to their client sustainability projects. This approach rests on deep insights and empathy for the humans at the center of the challenge, intense ideation, and the discipline of prototyping. What followed were creative, bright ideas for each organization to take back and implement,” – Jon Clift, Applied Sustainability capstone instructor.

The Wrangler Jeans team consisted of Amro Ali, Bob Hafner, Sabrina do Rosario, and Grace Saunders. Working with the Yadkin Keeper was Jorge Caballero, Denise McGuigan, Deb Roscoe, and Spencer Warmuth.

Following the capstone presentations, each graduate was awarded a medallion to represent their dedication, growth as professionals, and success.

Jessica Hamm and Bob Hafner both received further recognition.

Hamm was the recipient of the Director’s Award, an award decided upon by the program’s faculty members. Each year, this award is given to an individual who is considered among the next generation of sustainability leaders and is likely to distinguish himself or herself when working on sustainability challenges. Throughout her time with the program, Hamm demonstrated a shared responsibility to satisfy society’s current needs, developed a set of outcomes for a sustainable world, and provided an unusual ability to approach sustainability challenges from science-based, technological, and human-value perspectives.

For the past two years, Hamm has worked with Duke Energy Corporation serving as an emerging technology strategist.  

Voted on by his peers, Hafner received the Student Achievement Award, sponsored by Wrangler Jeans, for his outstanding contribution to the Sustainability Graduate Program and its participants. Consistently, Hafner inspired high levels of commitment from others, motivated people around him, actively shared responsibility, and set high integrity standards for himself and others.

Hafner works as a sustainable product development process buyer for new products with Deere-Hitachi.

Following the student achievement awards, North Carolina Public Utilities Commissioner, Lyons Gray, gave the graduation address. As the previous Chief Financial Officer of the United States Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush’s administration, Gray reflected on the ways in which Washington works– or doesn’t work. Gray also gave advice to the graduating class on jobs, success in the workplace, and post-graduate life.

Closing the ceremony, founding director Dan Fogel urged the Class of 2017 to use their “education to craft possibilities and to create and maintain connections to address important issues in our world.”

Fogel’s graduation address can be read in full here.

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