Taking Action on Climate Change

Varshini Prakash '15 co-founded the Sunrise Movement to build a more just and sustainable planet for future generations.

As a student at UMass Amherst, Varshini Prakash '15 developed the skills to channel her deep, long-standing concerns over the effects of climate change into action for the common good.

On campus, she found a community of passionate students who, like her, were frustrated about the state of the world and wanted to bring about change.

"I realized I couldn't wait to get involved. I had to be part of the solution," she recalled.

In 2017, Prakash co-founded the Sunrise Movement, a youth organization that aims to stop climate change while creating millions of sustainable job opportunities in the process. Today, she is executive director of the organization, which has expanded to more than 400 hubs across the country.

Varshini Prakash '15

"There was something that people used to say at the beginning of Sunrise all the time," said Prakash, "that people come for the cause but stay for the community."

"I didn't know that my journey at UMass was going to land me exactly where I am today," she said. "But it did in large part because I knew I wanted to fight to build a more just and equitable planet, and I was going to avail myself of every opportunity that I could at UMass."

That spirit lives on in today's students in the UMass Sunrise Movement chapter.

"We're starting to realize through education...that we have the power to come together as an entire university and community to change things," said Liam Zielony '23, UMass Sunrise Movement president.