Community Spotlight: Q&A with Nichole Wenzel

Who are you?

Nichole Wenzel, Student Fellow of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions, Environmental Studies major, Geography minor, and Student Sustainability Center volunteer coordinator, and blogger.

What is one of your strengths?

I’ve always been a very creative person. Before deciding to become an environmental studies major, I was going to be an art major. I feel as though my strength in creativity helps me to be a skilled communicator both verbally and in writing, allows me to think and see from many different perspectives, and be thoughtful and curious when working through a challenge.

How would you like to apply your ESM studies to your community, a career or other academic experiences?

I think one of most important courses of action against climate change is through effective science based policy. So I would like to apply my studies into the field of natural resource management through environmental policy and planning, primarily focusing on sustainability.

What are issues in Portland or in the nation that concern you, and how do you see yourself facilitating a solution for them?

Both globally and locally I have been interested in the issues surrounding overproduction of waste and the topic of greenwashing. I would like to find a way to implement the use of closed-loop recycling systems and designs as a way to mitigate waste within commercial production companies. Throughout my studies I have also been focusing on the issue of public distrust in science due to poor communication of data from the scientific community and the media, and find a way to connect personal values to environmental issues among the general public to generate awareness and action. I am currently working on a blog created through one of my courses that has become a means of communicating data in a way that is understandable and relatable.

What motivates you or inspires your persistence? How does your identity influence your path?

I am empowered as a non-white woman in STEM. My identity fuels my determination to take on opportunities and experiences that will aid in a successful future. I am inspired by underrepresented groups who brake the barriers created by society to prove how capable and influential we can be, and I seek to follow in their footsteps.