Fall is my favorite time of year. Football season is in full swing, the weather is gorgeous, and pumpkin is found in everything (if there is a pumpkin shortage again this year I will cry). Fall also brings alumni weekend at my alma mater of Saint Joseph’s University. As the reunion weekend approaches, I find my love for Gchat increases tenfold as my friends and I make plans and catch up. These conversations get me thinking about how people, pathways, and mindsets can change just two years out of college.
My friends and I were business students. We studied finance, accounting, and marketing. We spent our summers at investment banks and advertising agencies. Our idea of environmental protection was recycling beer cans at the grocery store to pay our countless Philadelphia Parking Authority tickets. As naïve and close-minded as we may have been, environmental issues were not on our radar screen.
Fast forward two years, and that has completely changed. We each still have a business mindset but realize the critical link that environmental issues have in the business world. Example: my former roommate Katie. A food marketing major, she now runs a marketing campaign that focuses on mushrooms and sustainable farming. She attends conferences on sustainability, tracks environmental and climate changes, and knows more about soil than I thought possible. Or my friend who understands the impact environmental regulations have on the financial markets when trading commodities and oil.
The most drastic change is in someone I never expected: myself. I’ll admit it, I was previously cynical about any and all things environmental. I felt job creation and business development should always prevail, and pollution was a necessary product of the modern world. Formerly more concerned with building housing developments at any cost rather than responsible land use plans, I now find myself studying environmental law. What have I found? A business background and environmental background do not have to be mutually exclusive.
Professors have forced me to look at both sides of issues, question my beliefs, and do something I rarely do: admit when my viewpoint may not be the best one. On Tuesday as I sat in Professor Cassuto’s Environmental Survey class, I found myself engaged in a discussion about the Endangered Species Act’s effect on construction projects. While I may not have been the number one person advocating for the protection of a species over construction of a new highway, I understood and respected the positions expressed and the merits of each side.
So while I may not be Pace Law’s number one environmental activist, I am no longer a one-sided thinker, but rather a student who has had a change in mindset.