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Melik’s Memo: May 2024

Spring is in the air and the team at Unity Environmental University is preparing to graduate another class of environmental superheroes. This year we anticipate that the University will confer more than 650 degrees, and we’re excited to have more than 100 of those students along with their families and friends joining us to walk the stage and turn their tassels at Commencement on May 11 at historic Merrill Auditorium in Portland.

Kristy Drutman — May 2024 Commencement Speaker

This year, we are pleased to welcome Kristy Drutman, renowned environmental educator and media producer, as the commencement speaker for the Class of 2024.

Drutman, popularly known as “Browngirl Green,” is celebrated for her passionate advocacy in environmentalism, diversity, and media. As a leading voice in the environmental movement, her expertise lies in educating and engaging young audiences about environmental issues and solutions, making her an ideal fit for addressing Unity’s environmentally conscious graduates.

Kristy is also the Co-Founder of the Green Jobs Board, a climate tech start-up, which she says is bridging the equity and inclusion gap within the green economy through conversations, resources, and pathways to bring more diverse talent into the environmental field.

Additional Academic Programming

As more and more Unity students graduate, we continue to welcome more and more future environmental stewards, and, as we do that, we are keeping an eye on the ever-evolving future by continuing to innovate with new programming.

Recently, we announced the expansion of our Sustainable Food Systems and Sustainable Hospitality and Tourism programming suites. This includes six new academic programs designed to prepare students for future careers in the rapidly growing green economy. These new offerings are part of the university’s commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.

You can read all about these new offerings by heading to the press release on our website.

Inclusion Maine Conference

Recently I was asked to join an impressive panel of state leaders to offer insights on the State of DEI in Maine at the Inclusion Maine Conference. The Panel discussed a range of topics and challenges faced by diverse populations. 

My favorite comment of the day: “Do not look at each other as different, look at each other as unique.” We all have something unique to bring to the tapestry that is this beautiful State of Maine! Let’s embrace that.

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On the Road Again!

Our Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships, Wendi Richards, along with members of her team have been traversing North America to attend prominent sustainability conferences. Their goal is to introduce Unity to mission-aligned organizations and explore collaborations around building a future green workforce.

These conferences cater to diverse attendees, from industry-specific to Fortune 500 companies, offering Unity a platform to showcase its unique approach to education reform. By emphasizing flexibility, affordability, and accessibility, Unity stands out among traditional institutions. Conferences attended include Verge, GreenBiz24, Aspen Climate Summit, B-Corps Champions, Responsible Business USA, Regenerative Agriculture Summit, AZA, and TED.

Student Stories

Meet Jamie from Washington. She’s majoring in Wildlife Conservation as she returns to college after a decade, all while working full time as an animal caretaker caring for American red wolves in western Washington!

She says, “I was nervous to go back, but it really seemed that Unity would make it a much easier transition and it totally has! I really like being able to focus on one class per term, I don’t feel as overwhelmed-even with the fast pace of each course and find myself being able to invest more in each class. That’s something I never felt when I was in college 10 years ago.

You can read more about her journey here.

Alumni Spotlight

As another commencement draws near, I find myself pondering the incredible journeys of some of our past graduates and how they exemplify dedication, resilience, and passion to change the world by being active in their local communities. After learning about one of our recent Wildlife Conservation graduates, Keerthani Rajanderan, I am proud to share a little bit about her path to success. Her story reflects Unity’s mission and commitment to providing accessibility to the environmental sciences regardless of geographic location, with the added flexibility to continue other pursuits in life.

While enrolled with us, Keerthani studied from Dubai, which permitted her to continue her love of working with horses while also taking advantage of opportunities for conservation volunteer projects during her breaks. Regarding her experience, she stated, “Most people think studying online is easier but it’s not, you have to be self-motivated and learn how to fit assignments into an already hectic schedule, but it also opens a lot of doors and allows for opportunities you might otherwise not have or come across.”

I am so proud to count Keerthani among the Unity Environmental University alumni and look forward to seeing the positive impact she is set to make on the world!

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