[Standish, Maine] – When Saint Joseph’s College student Kyle O’Keefe invited attendees at a campus Earth Day event to make protest signs, they looked skeptical. “They looked like they were thinking, ‘Signs for the People’s Climate March? Was that going to make a difference in these political times?’ But when I told them, ‘We want to take the people’s voice with us to Washington, to speak up for the Earth,’ they started making signs right away.” Those signs, along with many others created at that event, will travel in a Saint Joseph’s College van through the night tonight to Washington, D.C., along with two professors–Jeanne Gulnick (Assistant Professor of Sciences) and Nancy Kristiansen (Associate Professor of Business), students Aliyah Gregory, Alanna Dougherty, Maria Liberti, Nhu Vo, Caleb Gravel, Kyle O’Keefe, Courtney Couture, and Christina Young, and one alum, microbiologist Erin Wright. Once they arrive in the wee hours, another Saint Joseph’s faculty member, Pamela Gully who teaches in the online (MBA) program from Potomac, Maryland, will host them for a quick rest before they all begin the People’s Climate March on Saturday, April 28 together.
These students chose to attend this march, rather than attend the culminating formal social event of the year, Spring Fling weekend. As many of them are environmental science, marine science, or chemistry majors, they have committed themselves to impact the future of environmental policy. Nhu Vo, a senior on this trip to the march, received the Heart and Soul Award this week from Maine Campus Compact, in part, for her outstanding leadership and service as a Community and Sustainability Engaged (CASE) Scholar on campus. Each year, Saint Joseph’s selects two CASE scholars from the incoming first-year class who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to environmental issues and are ready to commit to a four-year study of the emerging green economy. This weekend, Vo and her classmates, are taking that commitment to DC.
Dr. Gulnick, one of the faculty leading the trip and a member of the College’s Sustainability Task Force, said, “Personally, climate change has been a steadily growing concern of mine since I took a graduate class on Global Change 25 years ago. We are at a critical juncture where the future of our planet is at stake. Traveling with nine students to the climate rally is so important, because this is the generation who will bear the brunt of climate change and these are the people who need to set us on another course. It is my greatest hope that these students will become the leaders who help to solve this complex problem.” Gulnick added, “I just hope the drive goes by quickly.”
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