Student Spotlight: Austin Andersen '15

Publication Date

Hometown: Red Bank, N.J.
Major: Environmental Policy
Minor: Environmental Engineering/Political Science (International Politics)

Why Union:
My college search was dominated by my recruitment as a lacrosse goalie. Union was the first school I seriously talked to and, in the end, Union was the best school to which I was accepted. Although I ultimately decided against pursuing the sport on campus, Union seemed like a beautiful place with good people and lots to offer.

Most inspiring class:
Intro to Environmental Studies Professor Thomas Jewell. I came into school not knowing what I wanted to do or how I was going to do it. This class showed me how I could marry my passions with something "useful." It covered a broad range of environmental problems that demand our immediate attention, and it inspired me to be an agent of change for environmental stewardship. We also went on some pretty cool field trips to landfills and water treatment centers, and on nature walks at Union's Kelly Adirondack Center.

Also excited about:
Travel –seeing the world, experiencing different cultures, and meeting new and interesting people. I traveled abroad last spring with a school trip to Montevideo, Uruguay, and I plan to go on the New Zealand mini-term next winter break. In my opinion, to be completely out of one's element and put in situations never before presented is the only way to learn and grow.

Favorite study spot:
Jackson's Garden in favorable weather; the third floor of the Nott Memorial any time.

Three things I'm passionate about at Union:

  • Being located pretty close to mountains in New York and Vermont for weekend ski trips
  • Weekly formal dinners at my fraternity with food, music and dancing
  • Everything about spring term

Most surprising thing about Union:
I love the genuine interest in conversation by everyone from President Ainlay and the chair of my department to the folks who work at Dutch Hollow and my fellow students.

Greatest Union moment:
I joined the crew team, and we went to Philly one brisk weekend in October for the Head of the Schuykill regatta. It was awesome being along the river at six in the morning in our Union gear and boats with what seemed like hundreds of other schools. In a word, it was electrifying.

How I'm making Union a better place:
By living in Ozone House as part of a community with campus leaders in environmental awareness and action. From spearheading recycling and composting efforts, hosting Ozone Café on Fridays to conducting trash audits, we take care of business on the environmental front. Going forward, I would like to get involved in more leadership positions on the school newspaper and the U Sustain committee.

Looking into the future:
I would like to travel as much as I can while also applying what I learned in school, whether with the Peace Corps or an international NGO working with water-related issues such as well-building, irrigation or sanitation. It is my belief that access to clean water is an inherent human right. There are many problems out there, and I would like be a part of the solutions. Down the road, I would like to go to the University of Oregon to pursue a concurrent degree in law and water resource policy.