Each year a limited number of students are accepted into Virginia Tech’s accelerated, 12-month Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR) Leadership in Sustainability Program. Students representing a variety of fields and sectors, including business, government, and non-profit organizations gathered together around a common goal, to make the world a better place for today and tomorrow.
Over the next several months I will share my journey towards my Masters Degree in a series, "XMNR2019 Black Green Girl" (copyright 2019) in hopes that enlightenment and new paradigms may be formed for the common good.
Exposure to new knowledge can be a double-edge sword. The required reading and learning materials introduced thus far has broadened my perspective and given me new understanding of this brilliant time in humanity with great change and uncertainty, known as the Anthropocene. I am intrigued, extremely concerned about the well-being of humanity and scared senseless all at the same time.
According to the data we are living in the best and worst of times. The more we grow and thrive the more we are endangering the ability of future generations to do so. The plethora of if then and what if scenarios is daunting.
Perhaps most astonishing is the rate of population growth and the haphazard ways in which we are currently sustaining ourselves. Humanity has created threats to our water and food supply; not to mention the environmental harm fast becoming the result thereof to other life on the planet. I am concerned about the extreme poverty inside and beyond the United States; wealth distribution; economic & social development; and environmental protection. How do we convince the world to save itself?
As stated in “The Age of Sustainable Development” by Jeffrey Sachs, making sense of the world’s complex systems: economy, global society and the Earth’s physical environment drives me to address education and outreach through effective communication, awareness and outreach that corporate channels can offer through social responsibility.
The XMNR program is wholly based on sustainable living. Deliciously fresh meals for the weekend were provided by Veteran Composting, an organization that hires Veterans and their families. They work to turn food scrap into high quality compost.
Later we were sectioned off into smaller groups to be bound together for the duration of the program twelves. The results of our personality assessments, which we'd taken prior to our arrival to class, revealed truths that for many of us, myself included, forced a reckoning with aspects of our inner selves that we were not fully aware.
Does the person we think we are show up differently to the world than who we consider ourselves to be? Exercises such as this can either leave you reeling in self-denial at your own truth or feverishly searching for a rafter to keep from drowning in your own self-loathing. Over the years wisdom has taught me to cut myself some slack and instead approach self-learning exercises such as these as a way to build upon my strengths, admit to and grow from my weaknesses. Let’s face it, we all come to a point in life when we simply are who we are.
Exhausted Yet Exhilarated
The weekend was over almost as quickly as it has begun. Each day I was given a glimpse into the lives of my new classmates. We engaged in open discussion lectures giving insight to new ways of thinking about communication styles, leadership abilities and frameworks for our ideals around sustainability.
The plane ascends higher and my eyes grow heavy. Sleeping during the past couple of nights was merely a notion. While my body naturally gave into the heaviness of travel and he anxiety of the unfamiliar, my mind was ever present and awake with excitement and anticipation of what lies ahead.
As Flight 1670 forged ahead in its descent from Washington Dulles Airport and into the clear open skies bound for Atlanta, I leaned back allowing my mind to finally slow down, almost in hypnotic suggestion at the sound of the plane’s engine seemingly just beneath my seat. I stared into the orange red glow of the sun settling out on the horizon, just beyond the plane’s wide wing.
“I’m really doing this,” I thought with a slight yawn, “pursuing my dreams...setting out to achieve another life’s goal. After 20 years this is really happening! I’m getting my master’s degree, building upon my experiences in continued pursuit of a passion to live life to the fullest while doing my part to make the world a better place.”
As noble as it may be to want to save the world, I'll settle for making an indelible mark here. My goal is to expand my knowledge of sustainability, so I can establish myself as a valued contributor and thought leader in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), expanding corporate commitment towards environmental stewardship and solving real world problems. I will use this platform to educate underserved communities in sustainable living.
It’s amazing how your life will unfold when you open your mind up to the vast possibilities our very existence has to offer. The journey continues.
#XMNR2019 Black Green Girl Series with special appreciation to Virginia Tech Executive Masters Natural Resources Program.
This post/website contains affiliate links. When you click on products/ services here, we may receive a commission. We only promote brands we trust/use ourselves. Your support is appreciated in helping us to continue to provide meaningful content to readers like you!