Think Global, Act Local
Heffernan was uncertain about an Environmental Studies major when he embarked on the Chesapeake Semester program in the fall of his sophomore year. But after the program, where students compared the ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay to those in Belize, he was sold.
“I was able to learn about the scientific aspect, the philosophies behind it, the human development reasons behind it,” he said. “It made me realize how interconnected the whole concept of environmental studies is.”
The trip definitely gave him a fresh perspective on his home country. “Here in America, it’s very straightforward, very consumer/producer related. There, those things are still prevalent, but they’re more focused on local development,” he said.
He took these concepts to the Student Environmental Alliance, for which he served as treasurer and a member of the Back-to-Tap initiative, a program that works to reduce the use of disposable plastic bottles on campus. In order to accomplish this, Heffernan’s committee meets with almost every office on campus, from Athletics to Admissions.
“It’s been a chance to work with people and cooperate, to develop ideas that work for the College. Most of the things we’ve accomplished have been through a student-led initiative that the school then adopted and helped us develop even further.”
Thanks to Belize, Heffernan values projects that can have local impact. “It shows that you’re invested in this community,” he said. “You’re working with the people here to help Washington College grow and become more environmentally friendly.”