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Villanova Senior Michelle Velez (’14 CLAS) Named 2013 Campus Sustainability Champion By Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium

VILLANOVA, Pa. –   Villanova University senior Michelle Velez (Garden City, N.Y.) was recently named a 2013 Campus Sustainability Champion by the Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium (PERC) for her work on sustainability, receiving special commendation for her involvement with Villanova’s Community Garden student organization, The Citizen’s Climate Lobby, and the University’s President’s Environmental Sustainability Committee (PESC). Velez was presented the award on Oct. 29 at the PERC Fall Conference where she also spoke as a member of a select panel of Campus Sustainability Champions.  

"We are very proud of Michelle, and happy that her hard work is acknowledged and celebrated by others,” said Liesel Schwarz, Villanova University Sustainability Manager.

Velez is an Environmental Science major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), who has led student sustainability efforts on the Villanova campus since her freshman year when she founded the University’s student chapter of Citizen’s Climate Lobby. She continues to lead the group as a senior.  Velez has been an active member of PESC for the past three years, mentoring other students on the committee, interacting with other campus student leaders, and directing projects related to sustainability awareness among students.  As the founder and chair of Villanova’s Community Garden group, she has spent more than two years advocating across campus for the installation of an organic vegetable garden and leading an enthusiastic group of students to volunteer on local farms to gain experience. Velez conducted sustainable agriculture research in Panama last spring, and now as a senior, she has remained fervently committed to contributing her energy and insight in furthering sustainability awareness and action on Villanova’s campus.

"It is an honor to have been selected as a 2013 Campus Sustainability Champion,” said Velez. “After working to educate the Villanova community about sustainability and promote new organizations, like the Villanova Community Garden, I was inspired to meet other students at the conference who are engaged in similar initiatives on their campuses. It confirmed that we are part of a growing movement and I firmly believe that sustainability is an essential mindset to help society start viewing progress as something that does not always need to be at odds with the environment."

Velez also recently served as the only undergraduate student on a prestigious sustainability panel at the National Academy of Sciences on Sept. 19 in Washington, D.C.  The event was part of the Sustainability Improves Student Learning (SISL) Convocation, supported by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

Villanova continues to integrate sustainability programs into its curricula, scholarly research, academic and community events, as well as its institutional policy and practice. Numerous University academic programs provide an emphasis on sustainability, including: master’s degree in sustainable engineering; first-year ACS Environmental Learning Community; bachelor’s degrees in environmental science, environmental studies, and environmental biology/ecology; undergraduate minors in environmental studies and sustainability studies; biology master’s degree, graduate certificate, and advanced graduate certificate with a concentration in ecology, evolution, and organismal biology; master’s degree in water resources and environmental engineering, a graduate certificate in urban water resources design, and graduate sustainability course in “Sustainable Industrial Chemistry.”

Click here to learn more about Villanova University’s commitment to sustainability.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.