Rebecca Schmidt - Program Manager
Rebecca is a senior Psychology major interested in researching attitudes and behaviors in relation to environmental problems. After taking Eco-Rep at the same time as a Social Psychology course her sophomore year, she became inspired to explore connections between the two fields. She found that a lot of what she was learning in her Psychology courses can be extremely applicable when promoting and encouraging pro-environmental behaviors. This “eureka moment” is what eventually led her to facilitate an Eco-Rep class of her own in the Southwest area last year, intern at George Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication this past summer, and to take on the role of Co Program Manager for Eco-Rep this year.
After school, Rebecca hopes to improve scientific literacy and education about environmental issues for the general public. She believes that individual behavioral changes will carry the movement, but that ultimately, our government needs to step in if we really want to see any drastic global improvements to today’s environmental issues.
Outside of Eco-Rep, you can probably find Rebecca eating at Earthfoods Café or going on random last-minute adventures with her best friend Jonelle. When Rebecca runs out of cool things to say, she will usually whip out a funny story about her twin brother named Michael whom Facebook has accidentally tried to tag her as on more than three separate occasions.
Eric Sorkow - Central Facilitator
Eric is a senior Sociology and Biology major who wants to dedicate his future career as an orthodontist to making the dental field more sustainable, while providing excellent care for patients of low socioeconomic status who have difficulty accessing dental benefits. Eric’s passion for teaching sustainability was perpetuated when he first engaged in the Eco-Rep program as a sophomore. He felt empowered by what he was learning in and out of the Eco-Rep classroom and wanted to help UMass students see that sustainability is attainable in every aspect of life.
Eric is always planning huge adventures around the world, and is currently planning on returning to Australia, where he studied abroad last semester. He thinks that Australia has made incredible strides in the sustainability movement, both politically and socially, and is excited to bring what worked in Australia back to the United States to create change.
When he’s not looking up flights around the world, Eric works as an orthodontic assistant at Rigali & Walder Orthodontics here in Amherst, is dreaming of warmer days in which he can hike, swim and cycle, or is trying to improve his cooking skills with locally sourced ingredients. (Not too much progress yet, but he’ll be ready to cook something up for the end-of-semester potluck!)
Hind Aljarahi - Central Facilitator
Hind is a sophomore Public Health and Middle Eastern Studies major on a pre-dental track. She is passionate about sustainability and the environment and tries her best to educate those around her about our impact on the environment. She is passionate about trying to reduce waste and hopes that someday we will live in a society where recycling is a norm and in which we grow at least a portion of our food by ourselves locally.
In high school, Hind was one of the students that started composting. She was also part of The Food Project the summer of her sophomore year of high school which helped her learn more about the food we eat and its impact on ourselves and our environment. The Food Project helped her become more aware of her surroundings and her impact on the environment.
After taking Eco-Rep, Hind realized how passionate about the environment she is and how much she cares to make a difference. Even though she is not an Environmental Science major, she equally cares for the planet. She wants to pass down her knowledge to others hoping that she would impact her students lives the way hers was impacted and make their experience as amazing and eye opening.
Outside of Eco-Rep, Hind enjoys painting and going to local farms. She also loves to travel and cook.
Jess Yu - Orchard Hill Facilitator
Jess is a sophomore looking to bridge the gap between environment and business through marketing and education. Although currently undeclared, she is intent on fighting against corporate greenwashing and finding ways to promote sustainability that go beyond the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mentality. She believes that although behavioral changes are important, educating individuals and raising awareness of our ecological and environmental issues will be the biggest catalyst for change. After all, “you have to know a system before you change it.”
Unwittingly, Jess’ start in the sustainability movement was an early one when tending to her family’s summer garden became a side hobby of hers as a child. Despite adopting environmentally green behavior at a young age, it wasn’t until senior year of high school when she learned that sustainability wasn’t just about having a small carbon footprint. Social justice, poverty, education - these issues are deeply rooted in the movement, since they cannot be compromised for sustainability to be achieved.
In her sophomore year of high school, she volunteered to teach art classes to middle schoolers in addition to becoming a teaching assistant on the weekends to bilingual kindergarteners who were looking to become proficient in Mandarin Chinese. Even though she’s not a stranger to teaching, she is excited to be given the opportunity of leading a seminar on something she is passionate about and maybe in a way, be the face of change.
Outside of Eco-Rep, Jess enjoys walks in the park with friends, drinking ridiculous amounts of tea, and watching sitcoms.
Alex Groblewski - Orchard Hill Facilitator
Alex is a sophomore Environmental Science major, with an extensive background in climbing trees and then falling out of them. Her interest in the environment stemmed (ha) from growing up in an environmentally aware household, where rooting through the neighbors' trash cans for recyclables was highly encouraged.
Alex believes that sustainability is a multi-faceted issue that can be encouraged and developed in economics, society, and the environment. She loves the intricacy of ecology, and believes that individuals and society share a responsibility in conserving the natural world. One of her role models is the conservationist Aldo Leopold, who once wrote, "We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect,” a perspective she hopes to model and share.
Outside of Eco-rep, Alex can be found reading, googling bad puns, drinking unhealthy amounts of coffee, hiking, and committing fashion crimes.
Joe Fallon - Southwest Facilitator
Joe is a sophomore finance major who is interested in how governments and corporations interact with the environment. Joe believes that as today’s society is faced with increasingly severe environmental problems it becomes apparent we have to expedite our transition into more environmentally friendly business practices. This transition can be sped up by making these practices more economically feasible and also by pressuring political leaders for change.
Joe has always enjoyed spending my time outdoors, whether it be to exercise or to just drink way too much coffee. Love for the outdoors led Joe to Eco-Rep, and Eco-Rep introduced him to the vast array of sustainability issues that that our world is facing. In Joe's spare time, he enjoys listening to the Pixies, drinking a fine cup of himself (joe (haha)), and hanging out with friends.
Derek Bossi - Southwest Facilitator
Derek is a sophomore Biology major. After joining Eco-Rep and the iCons program, he became passionate about sustainability and how human behaviors impact the environment. Someday, he hopes to see a society that creates zero waste and is powered fully by clean, renewable energy. As an Eco-Rep facilitator, Derek wants to inspire other students to care about the Earth and spread awareness about current environmental issues. To quote one of his favorite movies, The Lorax, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Outside of Eco-Rep, Derek is probably yelling at his friends to recycle, complaining about chemistry, reading a book, or hanging out with his pet rabbits, while simultaneously drinking coffee. He also enjoys binge watching many TV shows, including How I Met Your Mother, Parks & Recreation, Grey’s Anatomy, and Private Practice, just to name a few.
Siti Mohd Khairi - Northeast Facilitator
Siti is a senior Environmental Science major with a minor in Resource Economics. She's a long-time fan of anything related to Michael Pollan and really eating, in general. If you ask her what her favorite dessert was she would say chocolate torte (which coincidentally happens to be served at the DCs sometimes).
Siti is passionate about issues of sustainable agriculture, the food industry, biofuels (especially of the algal-nature, ask about her group's paper on it), how the environment should be part of the market economy, environmental education, and implementing sustainable practices into our daily lives (tiny house movement anyone?). She had always been passionate about the environment through her involvement as the President of The Lorax Club in high school and now. She first started at UMass as a Civil Engineering major but thought, who was she kidding, she was destined to be an Environmental science student (and maybe later, a true environmental scientist).
If you ask her what her plans are after college, she would cry a little but bravely aims to get a job in the in the environmental sector first and later go back to becoming a student in grad school.
Outside of Eco-Rep, Siti is the Vice President of The Reader's Society, enjoys playing The Sims and Zelda, binging on Netflix with her favorite people, being a movie buff and drinking tea. She wants to start a hobby in hydroponics and she has a pet turtle named Otis and a chinchilla named ChiChi.