Engineering community engagement
Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson November 18, 2019
Student serves on City of Newark Conservation Advisory Commission
A University of Delaware student is using her passion for sustainability and community service to benefit the city of Newark.
Robyn O’Halloran, a junior environmental engineering major and Community Engagement Scholar, was appointed to the City of Newark’s Conservation Advisory Commission in July. The commission studies ways to make the city more environmentally friendly.
During the summer of 2019, O’Halloran posted on social network Nextdoor that she was looking for more ways to get involved with the community. Newark Mayor Jerry Clifton responded and suggested that O’Halloran consider the Conservation Advisory Commission.
O’Halloran was intrigued to learn more about how the local government makes efforts to be more sustainable. In July, the City Council unanimously approved her appointment.
O’Halloran said she appreciates the opportunity to be a voice for students, and she plans to network with leaders in environmentally focused student groups to learn their needs and concerns.
“Our generation really cares about conservation,” she said. “We’ve grown up with it affecting us our whole lives and we know it will affect our future.” In a poll, the Harvard Opinion Project found that over 70 percent of Generation Z, people born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, agree that climate change is a problem.
O’Halloran’s skills and experience make her a perfect fit to serve on the Conservation Advisory Commission. “As an environmental engineering student and a Community Engagement Scholar, I’ll be able to tie in what I’ve learned in engineering classes, policy classes and service opportunities,” said O’Halloran.
When O’Halloran was applying for colleges, she was intrigued by UD’s Community Engagement Scholars program, which prepares students in any major to become engaged citizens.
“In every major, you can help your community,” she said. “That was a really big selling point for me.” O’Halloran knew that it would be a challenge to balance school work and community service, but through Community Engagement Scholars, she has a network of resources and support that allow her to excel in both.
O’Halloran is also interested in advancing the field of environmental engineering through research and discovery. Over the summer, she studied in the laboratory of Professor Yu-Ping Chen, examining the fate of antibiotic residues in groundwater.
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