The Office of Sustainability is excited to share that Zuri Gagnon is 2016's Sustainability Student Spotlight. Zuri hails from the Eastern Shore of Virginia and is studying biology with a concentration in Environmental and Conservation Biology. In addition to her coursework she has a strong passion for animal rights and humane eating, which she lives out through her lifestyle and campus involvement.
"My whole life I have been passionate about environmental issues," says Zuri,"At Mason I became more actively involved after attending Green Patriots and learning about how many opportunities were available."
We are thrilled to recognize Zuri for all of the tremendous leadership she provides for Mason Sustainability efforts. Zuri has an impressive list of involvement in environmental causes, matched by few on campus. She generously volunteers her time as an active member of Green Patriots, President of GMU Campus Kitchens, Student Leader of the GMU Real Food Challenge, Co-Coordinator for the Vegan Society, and as a Sustainability Intern for Mason Dining.
On how she balances her many roles Zuri says, "Many of my interests overlap. People often ask me how I handle it all, and I say it helps that I enjoy it so much and I enjoy the people involved."
One of her proudest accomplishments was leading the Campus Kitchens program to grow and thrive this year. The program collects prepared foods from Mason Dining that would have otherwise gone to waste. The group then delivers donations of prepared foods to Katherine Hanley Family Shelter four times a week.
Zuri also recounted on the fun she has experienced through the traveling for sustainability work. These trips have included attending the Sustaining the Sustainer meditation retreats and a regional Real Food Challenge Conference where Zuri was able to connect with activists and leaders from universities all over the state.
"Vegan Society went to Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary for an open house," says Zuri, "We got to play with the baby animals including a cute baby piglet. It was exciting to see animals where they really need to be."
When taking time for herself Zuri relaxes and recharges by practicing yoga, honing her hula hooping skills, and enjoying video games to unwind.
"The advice I would give to new students is to not be scared to try something new, and attend meeting," says Zuri, "I have met my greatest friends through Mason Sustainability orgs."
Zuri is a model student who has taken full advantage of opportunities at Mason. She left a huge positive impact on the Mason community and we thank her for her incredible service. In the fall Zuri can be found studying at the Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation. After that: changing the world.