When Nhu Vo ’17, of Manchester, Maine, graduates this week, she will leave a legacy of outstanding civic engagement, environmental stewardship, and a maple tree, planted in her honor by Student Government. Vo’s civic engagement efforts, calling attention to issues of both local and global importance, so impressed the statewide coalition Maine Campus Compact that they selected her as one of six undergraduate students in Maine to receive the 2017 Heart and Soul Award, a recognition of active involvement in turning campuses and communities into places of democracy. Her peers are honoring Vo as well, planting a tree that symbolizes her contributions to the campus community.
Learning of the honors, Vo said, “I have loved these last four years at Saint Joseph's College. Winning the Heart and Soul award–making this kind of impact and imprint on the College community–is definitely one of my proudest achievements. When Student Government told me that a tree of my choice will be planted on campus in my honor, I thought about how this tree is a gift to the campus community; even after I graduate, the tree will continue to support a better environment for future generations of students. I could not have won this award without the support I received over these past years from Dave Lischer, Jeanne Gulnick, and Kimberly Post, and the help I received from group members in the different clubs where I’m active.”
Nhu Vo’s TerraCycle project is just one example of where her service to the College community–and its sustainability values–has made a difference. Vo shared her passion for the environment and this company’s mission, “I started TerraCycle at my high school during my senior year and hoped to start it at Saint Joseph’s, too. That goal was accomplished this year, with the help of various staff and faculty (including Jeanne Gulnick). TerraCycle is a company that works to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills by collecting things that are not usually recyclable and finds a use for them. They are diverting waste, like chip bags, cigarette ashes, contacts, dried-up pens and pencils, to name a few. By getting TerraCycle started at Saint Joseph’s College, I am helping my community to become more sustainable and to reduce its waste stream.”
A graduating senior majoring in Environmental Science and Marine Science with minors in Sustainability Studies and Biology, Vo was Saint Joseph’s first Community and Sustainability Engaged (CASE) Scholar. Each year, the College selects two CASE Scholars from each incoming class, students who are ready to commit to a progressively challenging, four-year study of and commitment to the emerging green economy. This cadre forms the leadership core of the Eco-Reps Student Group and raises awareness—on campus and in the community—of sustainability issues.
“Nhu's steady persistence and her desire to make positive changes has enriched the Saint Joseph's College community over the past four years. We’re delighted that Nhu is being recognized this year with Campus Compact’s Heart and Soul Award. She is one of those rare individuals who leads by example. We’re confident she will continue to make a difference in the years to come,” said Dr. James Dlugos, President. Vo isn't wasting any time; following graduation, she will begin a paid internship this summer as an Environmental Analyst with Avangrid, Inc., a diversified energy and utility company that operates in 27 states.
About Maine Campus Compact
Maine Campus Compact is a coalition of 18 member campuses that leads a movement to reinvigorate the civic mission of higher education. The 2017 Maine Campus Compact awards ceremony was held April 26 at the Southern Maine Community College campus. Faculty members, students, campus organizations, and community and corporate partners were among those recognized.