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Environmental interests: Putting her energy towards sustainability

When junior Allison South started her first year at Miami University, she came in with her major undecided and unsure about which extracurricular activities to get involved with on campus. 

But just two years later, she’s juggling the University Honors Program, a major, two co-majors, a master’s degree, six student organizations and three intramural sports. 

Many college students would crumble under the pressure of so many responsibilities but South enjoys the hectic schedule. 

“It’s less overwhelmed and more, ‘I need to keep moving, keep myself busy,’” South said, snapping her fingers. “It helps me not procrastinate as bad because I can look at my Google Calendar and see the next two days are completely full, so you best get your stuff done today even though it’s not due for three days.”

After declaring a political science major in the fall of her freshman year and adding on an energy co-major and sustainability co-major the following spring, South figured she had plenty to keep her busy. 

She had a rough idea that she would go into some kind of environmental policy, making the most of her political and environmental degrees. That’s still the dream for the 2021 graduate, but throughout her sophomore year, she wondered how she could further pursue her passion for the environment. 

“I tend to like my natural sciences classes, and so I was interested in the master’s program because it’s almost entirely the actual field,” South said. “Like, I’m in a lab where we went and we fished in streams for the last two Mondays. It’s more practical, where I can use this knowledge later on for something that I’m doing.”

Adding on the environmental sciences master’s degree required South to register for four graduate-level classes this fall, plus one undergrad class. She says she’ll probably have to do something similar in the spring, but for her senior year, the undergrad and grad classes should balance out more.

On top of all of her assignments, South also serves as the president of Miami University Eco-Reps, an organization dedicated to helping students go green, president of Project Kids Network, a service organization that helps children in need, and the sustainability team lead for the Honors Student Advisory Board. 

She is also a member of Amicus Curiae Pre-Law Society, a gathering for students interested in studying law, Best Buddies, which pairs up Miami students with adults who identify with an intellectual or developmental disability and the National Residence Hall Honorary, a society for exemplary students who help improve residence life on campus. 

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South joined all of these organizations shortly into her first year but didn’t run for leadership positions until her sophomore and junior years. 

For Project Kids Network, she saw potential to grow the organization and wanted to take the lead to foster that growth. For Eco-Reps, South simply wanted to spend more time with an organization she holds dear. 

“I love Eco-Reps. I’m just the crazy person that talks about it all the time, and I was on the leadership team for it last year, and the [president] spot was opening up, and I was just like, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna have a little bit more free time, why not invest it back into this organization that I really enjoy?’” South said. 

Aside from filling her schedule, being involved in all of these student organizations helps South remember why she wanted to come to Miami in the first place. She was hesitant to visit, believing the school would be overrun with “stereotypical” Miami students. But after walking around campus for a day with her mom, she saw a completely different side of Miami that called to her. 

“I got to see the other students that weren’t the stereotypical whoever,” she said. “I got to see that there were other organizations on campus, and I feel like me being hesitant to come, because I didn’t know that there were so many different parts of Miami, is what has made me get so involved.” 

South is internally motivated and driven by nature, but she also works hard to make her family proud and support the lessons they raised her on: doing well in school, always putting in her best effort and remembering to put the books down every once in a while to have fun. 

Even in the midst of South’s chaotic classes-and-club filled calendar, she’ll always make time to drag her friends to a pick-up broomball game or to watch the RedHawks hockey team. 

stahullc@miamioh.edu 

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