|Sarah Brylinsky '08|
|Works with Second Nature supporting The American College and University Presidentís Climate Commitment.|
Sarah Brylinsky ’08 majored in Communication, Management, and Design, and double minored in Environmental Studies and Women’s Studies. She currently works with Second Nature supporting the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, a partnership involving more than 650 colleges and universities to enhance the education, research, and community engagement to help society re-stabilize the earth’s climate. Specifically, she focuses on climate action plans, advancing sustainability education, and providing leadership and educational opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to improve sustainability in higher education. She is involved in the international climate negotiations through the gender and youth constituency policy groups, and is responsible for coordinating the keynote events for the national Campus Sustainability Day.
Sarah’s career has always involved sustainability, especially as an undergrad. While at Ithaca, Sarah worked as the student sustainability coordinator and helped revise and revamp the Eco-Reps program. She was also the resident assistant for the Sustainable Living Community, volunteered as a FLEFF intern, worked as a regional planner with the Tompkins County Planning department on watershed and community zoning ordinances, sat in on the board of the alternative transportation committee for Ithaca, and was hired as the first Fleet Manager of Ithaca Carshare the year it opened. Talk about being active and involved!
One of the most memorable projects she worked on as a student was creating the Campus Sustainability Day events and publications each year. Through this experience, Sarah learned to deal with multiple stakeholders across the campus and community, balanced budgets, did customer service and programming, and created interactivity for the campus. Sarah always stepped up on opportunities to volunteer where she could gain more skills, and so has a resume bursting with experience for what she wanted to do. “Ithaca College is a tremendous community that supports engaged, thoughtful, and challenging students to do the work they want to do, and every student should feel empowered to be an active member of that community,” Sarah says. She encourages students to do as much as they can and take on every opportunity.
After Ithaca, Sarah was hired by the Center for Sustainability Education at Dickinson College to create a resource and teaching center for sustainable activities in order to advance sustainability and environmental literacy for the students. She worked on faculty department workshops, co-taught a course on international climate negotiations, and participated in the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention’s 15th Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen. She also helped create programs for the south central Pennsylvania local economy initiative and worked on the creation of Pennsylvania’s first Climate Adaption Plan.
Not only is Sarah invested in her job, but also is the community. She is a big advocate for bicycle and pedestrian transportations for individual and community health. In Pennsylvania, Sarah ran a free bike tune-up shop at the local farmers market, and has worked on a variety of bicycle initiatives, such as creating classes on bicycle safety, maintenance, and policy-advocacy. Biking is a cheap, independent, and intergenerational solution to the issues of our reliance on fossil fuels and the growing obesity problem. And, it’s just fun!
Ironically, when Sarah first came to Ithaca, she had no interest or training in environmental issues, ecology or pollution, and had never really heard the word ‘sustainability’ before. She was a potential music major, but her advisor over the summer helped her some interesting courses, one of which was a first year seminar on sustainability. Three weeks into the course, she knew that her role in life was to be a leader and innovator and to help find solutions for the climate crises that threatened the future of sustainable life.
For Sarah, sustainability is the most important work of any generation to date, because it challenges every society, economy, and political system from unsustainable and wasteful, to sustainable and balanced. Sarah hopes to help empower others to get involved by advancing sustainability in higher educations, empowering young people with communication and leadership skills, and tackling the climate challenge with a gender-sensitivity, economically and racially just, and community diverse perspective. This is her life’s work and passion. Some advice she has for students: “Don't just think outside the box. Recycle the box, get a bike, ditch unhealthy and unsatisfying behaviors, and pursue wholeheartedly the path that you think will make the world a better place.”