Bill Nye The Science Guy so eloquently — and hilariously — repeated in his appearance at Rider on April 23 that we, as millennials, are the generation that must “change the world.” And the time for change is now.
College means more than graduating with a degree by sacrificing sleep and fun for a higher GPA. It means more than having to adjust to little privacy, making and losing friends and searching for love and inspiration. These are the years when we are supposed to find ourselves and establish our own individual identity — the years that determine how we will impact the world.
When I first came to Rider nearly four years ago, I was a completely different person. This campus has transformed me, as it does many students, into a better version of myself. I am a better writer; I have found lifelong friends; I can speak in front of a crowd with minimal visible anxiety. But most importantly, I discovered my passion for the environment and preserving our incredible planet, and I’ve made it my personal goal to share that passion with the world.
But this isn’t about me. This is about you. Whether you are a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, you are at a major turning point in your life. You are about to kick off a new summer, possibly a new job or internship. And believe it or not, in just a few months, many of you will be starting another semester and will be one step closer to sitting on the Campus Green in your very own cap and gown, which is made out of recycled plastic bottles. This is your chance to start over with a more sustainable lifestyle.
You have all seen the eco-reps around campus — at least I hope you have, because if you haven’t, you probably need to get out more. They wear the green shirts adorned with a tree, educate students about sustainability and work to bring environmental advocates to Rider’s campus, such as Bill Nye and Adrian Grenier. Whether you know it or not, Rider has presented you not only with the education and skills needed to secure a job after graduation but also the knowledge needed to live a sustainable life.
Rider has once again made it on The Princeton Review’s list of the top 353 Green Colleges this year. Thanks to President Mordechai Rozanski’s promise to make Rider carbon neutral by 2050, sustainability has become a top priority of our university. Rider was lucky enough to have a president who is conscious of our impact on the planet, and I hope that our next president, Dr. Gregory Dell’Omo, will follow Rozanski’s lead.
Rider has taken responsibility for its environmental impact; now it’s your turn. This is the end of another year, but this is also a new beginning for all of us. After you finish your final papers and exams, take a moment to reflect on what you have learned this year.
Hopefully you have acquired some skills that will help you make a decent salary after your time at Rider is over. But I also hope that you have learned sustainable ways of living as well. You know how to recycle, you know that our lives currently depend on non-renewable energy resources such as oil and coal, and you know how to conserve those resources.
Recycle; don’t take what you don’t need; carry a reusable water bottle; shop and eat locally; carpool whenever possible; and walk or bike when the sun is shining. These are all simple steps that we can all take to preserve our lives and enhance the lives of our children and grandchildren. Believe it or not, after college is over, our lives will revolve around the generations that succeed us.
For all of the seniors who are preparing to put on their caps and gowns and receive their diplomas in a few weeks, this is your chance to choose to go out into the world as true adults and protect it. You have the knowledge — now it’s time to put it to good use.
Printed in the 04/29/15 issue.