Deep down, I'm an academic at heart. It's telling that when I moved to Helsinki, I had a library card long before I finished furnishing my flat!
During the final year of my bachelor's studies, I created my own capstone project. The result was a documentary called Dump the Dump, which chronicled the struggles of people fighting against an illegally sited waste transfer station in a largely minority neighborhood in Evanston, Illinois (where my alma mater is located). Making the film took a tremendous amount of research – from Environmental Protection Agency laws to the history environmental justice – that all needed to be synthesized, prioritized, and visualized. The process was like writing a thesis and delivering it in movie form.
Throughout my bachelor's studies, I was part of the Roosevelt Institute, a national network of progressive student think tanks. In the first year of my studies, I wrote a policy memo about a fee on plastic bags that the City of Evanston could implement to help advance its environmental goals. Writing the policy memo took a great deal of research, and that spring it was published in the national 10 Ideas for Energy and Environment policy journal and the regional Growing a Green Midwestern Economy journal.