Perhaps it is fortuitous that Mallory Rutigliano '17 is the Energy Intern in the Dartmouth Sustainability Office. Between her schoolwork, internship, piccolo and flute playing for the Dartmouth Wind Ensemble, tutoring middle and high school students AND working at the HOP, she needs access to all the renewable energy she can get! We are grateful Mallory found time in her busy schedule to answer some questions about her experience here at Dartmouth over the past four years.
Question: Where you are from, how did you choose Dartmouth?
Rutigliano: I hail from Queens, New York and I wanted to go to Dartmouth because of its excellent academic record, its rich history, and its beautiful location in New Hampshire. I knew that I didn’t want to attend a school in a city, and was drawn by Dartmouth's focus on the importance of nature and the outdoors through its coursework and extracurricular programming.
Q: What are you studying here at Dartmouth? How do those studies relate to sustainability?
R: At Dartmouth, I am a Biology modified with Psychology major, with minors in Environmental Studies and Global Health. Initially, I had started studying strictly cellular biology and genetics, but felt there was something missing for me. I decided to branch my studies into psychology, then anthropology, and then environmental studies, in order to garner the fullest perspective to adequately understand human and environmental health and flourishing. I am enamored with the Sustainability Office because it, too, seems to seek interdisciplinary knowledge and a holistic understanding of science, social science, and humanities. My current major and minor combination reflects my hope to focus my career on whole systems – to me, sustainability can only be achieved by engaging many subjects and perspectives, and this is what I seek to do in my undergraduate studies and through my involvement in the Sustainability Office.
Q: Why did you become involved with the sustainability office? What has your experience as an intern been like?
R: When I was a sophomore, I took my first environmental studies course, Global Environmental Health, with Professor Bill Roebuck. From then on, I realized that I was extremely interested in environmental science and sustainability and wanted to become more involved. I began taking more environmental studies courses and, through the department, was led toward the Sustainability Office. Additionally, in that same year, I was living in East Wheelock House and answered an inquiry from the community director, looking for students who were interested in initiating a garden project for East Wheelock in conjunction with the Sustainability Office. I was eager to join the initiative, as I love gardening and was seeking an excuse to spend more time outside. After joining, I was able to engage with the Sustainability Office in building, maintaining, and expanding the garden and became interested in involvement in the Sustainability Office in a larger capacity. I serve as one of the Energy Interns for the Sustainability Office. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Being a part of the office has helped me to pursue my interests in environmental studies in a more “hands-on” capacity, outside of the classroom. I enjoy working with the staff and, since starting as an intern, have been afforded numerous opportunities to learn about sustainability and the environment in new and unique ways.
Q: What else are you involved with on campus?
R: For the past four years, I have conducted independent research in the Biology Department in Developmental and Cellular Biology, working with microscopic nematodes. Additionally, I play the piccolo and flute in the Wind Ensemble, work for the Hopkins Center to market classical music to students, tutor through Academic Skills Services, and volunteer teaching music to middle and high school aged students, among other campus activities.
Q: How do you incorporate sustainability into your daily life? What else can Dartmouth students do to be more sustainable?
R: I try to incorporate sustainability into my life by thinking about the choices I make daily. It makes me feel empowered, in that the little decisions I make can have a positive impact on the environment. I think that Dartmouth students can easily prioritize sustainability, if they condition themselves to think about their choices. If every student tried to recycle or waste less food or turn off extra lights, reducing our footprint would be much simpler. Students, including myself, need to make sure that they prioritize and care about their actions and think about their impacts; a liberal arts college education is intended to broaden the mind and help students develop new, interdisciplinary perspectives - in my mind, sustainability is similarly interdisciplinary and broadening. Students should try to live deliberately and make more "sustainable" decisions daily.
Q: Favorite thing about Dartmouth? What do you do for fun?
R: My favorite thing about Dartmouth is the Organic Farm. The fact that Dartmouth has an area for students to engage in hands-on learning and farming is something I find particularly special. It draws students closer to understanding the food we eat, the resources we use, and the landscape. Additionally, the events that take place at the farm are a great way to involve students across campus in sustainability and outdoor activities and are so much fun! I also like to see performances at the Hop - they provide such a breadth of experiences that are so affordable for students, I feel very fortunate. I love to go see films, music performances, operas, and plays.
Q: Favorite class you've taken so far? Recommendation for future students interested in sustainability?
R: My favorite class so far has been a tie between Global Environmental Health with Professor Roebuck, Methods in Ecology with Professor Cottingham, and Environmental Law with Professor Jones. All of these courses gave me tools to look at the world from new perspectives, and for that I am grateful. To students interested in sustainability, I recommend taking courses in the Environmental Studies and Biology Departments. Environmental Studies offers a wide range of classes for students interested in the the environment and the Biology Department (specifically ecology and evolution courses) provide a detailed understanding of mechanisms in humans and other organisms through history. However, for students interested in sustainability, I would mostly recommend that they take "sustainability" as a perspective into any department. All topics can engage concepts of sustainability, whether that be gender equality, economic subsistence, environmental conservation, or anything else. Sustainability seeks to encourage sustainable use of the natural resources, but even more, it seeks for a balance of many different issues - use sustainability as a mindset into every class.
Q:What, in your opinion, is the best thing we can all do to encourage universal environmental sustainability?
R: To me, the paramount concern of sustainability is respect. We must respect our environments, one another, ourselves. In order to treat the world sustainably, we must have a respect for its components. The best thing to do would be for each individual to asses his or her own actions and determine whether they are treating the earth with respect. If not - if a person is wasteful, inconsiderate, apathetic - that person has an opportunity and privilege to make better, more sustainable choices. I think the best thing to encourage sustainability would be to implement a feeling of responsibility for our surroundings - bring elements that are perhaps out of sight back into mind (like where our food or fuel comes from), so that we understand our important positive and negative impacts. We, as students, have so much to offer to this world and to the world of future generations - let's make it count and do it right!