Create Your Own Story (CYOS) is a story sharing initiative intended to recognize and celebrate OSU student leaders who are imagining a better world and making it happen! By capturing and sharing the stories of OSU students who are high-impact change-makers, we hope to motivate and inspire other OSU students to reflect on ways they can maximize their Oregon State experience to make their own positive impact in working toward a more just and equitable world. We encourage you to create your own story!

Inspiring the next round of student leaders to imagine a better world and make it happen.

One story at a time.

Jessica Li (she/her) is a junior at Oregon State University pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in Chemistry with a minor in writing. Coming to Corvallis from Salem, Oregon, Jessica has found many involvements over the course of her time at OSU. In high school, Jessica was a part of many athletic teams including cross country and swim, but she always had a particular love for tennis. She looked forward to joining similar athletic involvements at the collegiate level―and she did just that. Jessica recalls that the first time she found community on campus was when she joined OSU’s Tennis Club, which provided her with a social setting that made her feel included. Peers voluntarily approached her hoping to become friends, which was a new experience and made her feel welcome for the first time. The experience was meaningful to her as someone who has experienced social anxiety.

Jessica holds the core values of compassion and resilience. Compassion shows up in her life through volunteering in a variety of areas. In eighth grade, she was nominated to be accepted into the Junior National Honor Society, an experience that “sparked the fire inside of her” and led to a passion for community engagement. Throughout high school, she spent her summers volunteering at the Salem Public Library where she helped operate the Discovery Room, a place for children to learn and play. Compassion helped her stimulate curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking in children, and she recalls this as a very fulfilling experience. More recently, Jessica has had to exercise resilience in the face of COVID-19. As The President of the Circle K International Club, Jessica had to adapt to an entirely online format and think creatively about how to keep club members engaged. Throughout the pandemic, she found ways to safely organize Circle K International Club in hosting charity walks, card-making events for veterans and seniors in assisted-living homes, a United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund fundraiser, and a group volunteer event to sort and transport donated items at Vina Moses for low income families. In all, Jessica says,“my volunteering experiences have strongly shaped my personal mission to serve others and advocate for social justice.”

Other involvements that Jessica has found on-campus includes her work as an undergraduate research assistant in Garcia Lab studying Mercury Bioaccumulation and Toxicity. Likewise, Jessica is also an undergraduate research assistant in the Stevens Lab studying the role and function of vitamins and dietary phytochemicals in human health and disease. These involvements led her to be featured in the Celebrating Undergraduate Excellence (CUE) and Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium (SURS) conferences, where she presented her research findings in a 3-minute lightning talk. Additionally, her work in the Garcia Lab has led her to the opportunity to realize a lifelong passion for writing and becoming an author. She is currently involved in writing a children’s book about environmental protection, the value of amphibian species, and empowering children of racial minorities to pursue STEM careers. She has also found that working as a print contributor and author of magazine articles through Beaver’s Digest helped her realize her passion for writing and contributed to her writing dreams becoming reality. .

To Jessica, a better world is one in which everyone is happy and succeeds, helps each other in times of difficulty, is treated with respect, and embraces our differences. She embodies the aspirations of realizing this world in the work that she does. In her own words, “all of these extracurriculars are motivated by my hopes of making a difference, whether that's volunteering to give back to my community, advocating for social justice through writing, making groundbreaking new scientific discoveries, or just making the people around me smile.” After undergrad, Jessica plans to attend Dental School and become a Dentist.

Jessica Li (she/her)

Tali Ilkovitch (they/them)

Born and raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Tali Ilkovitch (they/them) is an OSU transfer student set to graduate in Spring 2023. Their college journey began at Montgomery Community College in Rockville, Maryland before coming to Corvallis and enrolling in the College of Forestry. From the beginning of their time here, Tali has forged a path of leadership. Seeking a specialized college experience, they created a unique option in their Natural Resources major known as Decolonization and Environmental Justice. They have tirelessly advocated for their community and marginalized folx, keeping a mindset that what needs to be done is already known, so action and accountability are critical. 

A core value that Tali holds is justice. For Tali, justice is often revealed through actions to fight injustice. They cite actions such as dismantling systems of white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, colonialism, imperialism, ableism, and poverty as actionable justice. As a Jewish descendent of Holocaust survivors, Tali aligns strongly with Tikkun Olam—a Jewish concept meaning to repair the world, and center collective actions towards healing the world. Tali has demonstrated their strong values of justice and Tikkun Olam through their involvement at OSU.

They are currently working with the We Can Do The Work/Disarm OSU campaign, which is a network of students, faculty, staff, and community members calling for the disarming/defunding of campus police. Through this campaign and their involvements in the Coalition of Graduate Employees and Associated Students of OSU, they also advocate for funding of essential community resources including food, housing, healthcare and crisis support, anti-racism education, and more.The changes they are working towards in the community are pieces to the puzzle for their vision of a more equitable world. Tali believes that the first steps for putting this vision forward will be to recognize that the world is broken. The concept of anarchism is important to them because it prioritizes the decentralization of power to build collective prosperity through both the unity of mutual aid and resistance to hierarchies. Beyond that, to them, a better world includes the empowering of systematically oppressed people to dismantle the old systems of power and then rebuild systems together that are run by love and community.  Tali lives by a philosophy that love needs to come first.

Given all of Tali’s involvements and everything that they dedicate towards creating change, they must work hard to remain hopeful. Tali explains that organizers can frequently struggle with self care due to working so hard and seeing so many of the struggles people are facing. One integral part of their self-care regimen is celebrating Shabbat, which is a Jewish day of rest. Additionally, a strategy they employ to continue to move in the direction of change is, “Remembering what we are fighting for, along with keeping a vision of hope right in front of us.” Tali describes two truths that inform their activism as, “we can’t stop fighting, but we also have to step back to let others step forward when they have the energy in order to preserve self care.” Finally, in addition to holding onto hope and centering self-care, perhaps Tali’s most inspiring message for others is that, “our biggest sources of power are already within us and around us. We just need to use our collective voice.”

A long time Oregonian, Sonia Nair (she/her) came to Corvallis from Lake Oswego, Oregon. Sonia has worked hard from a young age to get to where she is today at Oregon State University with a major in Biohealth Sciences and a minor in Chemistry. She is a sophomore set to graduate in Spring of 2022. 

Beginning in kindergarten as a Girl Scout, Sonia has found ways to involve herself in supporting the community. Her health issues as a child led her to spend a lot of time in various doctor's offices. Though challenging, these experiences were also positive for her as she was introduced to the world of compassionate healthcare early in her life. She credits her decision to become a pediatrician to these experiences, as well as her volunteer work through Girl Scouts and in school.

In middle school, Sonia pursued these interests by working at an assisted living center focused on geriatric care. In high school, she volunteered at two local hospitals, gaining experience in medical settings. Finally, at OSU, she has worked as an undergraduate research assistant for the OSU Flame Retardant Study that examines self-regulation in children. That experience, along with others, are key parts of her medical education path focusing on children. Having done a lot of work with children, she has set herself up to be a pediatrician as well as help influence young minds and improve their educational equity. 

Two of Sonia’s main focuses are working with children and inspiring women in STEM fields. These can go hand in hand because being a woman of color in STEM herself, she can show youth that there are professionals in these fields who look like them. Being an Academic Outreach Officer for her sorority Sigma Delta Omega, she finds ways to educate future generations about inclusivity and diversity in STEM fields. Not only does she find children to be the “cutest human beings ever,” but she also loves to learn from observing their creativity as they explore and discover the world around them. Furthermore, she does a lot of menstrual equity work as an advocate for women’s health. Being part of the PERIOD at OSU club, she fights for free access to menstrual products for all identities who have periods.

Due to the nature of Sonia’s focus, she often encounters people who challenge the work she does.  Instead of shutting down a conversation, she remembers that impatience creates a divisive culture. Prioritizing love and inclusivity, she does her best to maintain an open mindset and awareness that everyone has their own battles to fight. This attitude opens doors for conversations that foster the ability to learn from one another and expand mindsets. Advocating for equity and justice now along with preparing the next generation to be change-makers are both building blocks that Sonia has already contributed towards positively changing the world.

Sonia Nair (she/her)

Shrida Sharma (she/her)

Shrida Sharma (she/her) is an undergraduate student in her senior year majoring in Psychology, Pre-Med. with minors in Spanish and Chemistry. Shrida is from Astoria, Oregon and this is where she got her start in community engagement. During Shrida’s time in high school she got involved and volunteered through Key Club. For her senior project, Shrida co-founded the Bloom Project in Astoria with her mentor. The project is a non-profit organization that repurposes flowers to make bouquets for folks in hospice care. Though no longer called the Bloom Project, this project still lives on in Astoria. Shrida continues to give back to her home community by volunteering and conducting research at OHSU-CMH Knight Cancer Collaborative. While at OSU, Shrida has been involved as a Zumba Instructor at Dixon Rec, a Cartoonist for the daily Barometer and Honors College, she was also a biochemistry learning assistant for the last two terms, and a Honors College Ambassador. Shrida has also spent her time volunteering as a research assistant in the interpersonal sensitivity lab since fall of her sophomore year. It is also where she did her thesis. She volunteered at Community Outreach Inc. in Corvallis and chose to start a Food Insecurity Community Service Project. Shrida saw the need for this project after taking an honors colloquium “Poetry and Hunger,” where she learned how prevalent food insecurity was within the community. The fact that Shrida has such a wide variety of involvements at OSU, reflects her core value of balance.

Balance is Shrida’s core value, as it guides all areas of her life, academics, and work; this allows her to be a well-rounded individual. She believes that you can be a well-rounded individual, without needing to feel pressure to be great at one specific thing. It was hard for Shrida to accept this but she says, “balance is an admirable quality to have.” Another value that Shrida holds is believing in yourself, this is something she had to learn, but she’s pushed herself to do many things by believing in herself. Believing in yourself and building confidence was advice she would give to her younger self as well. She states,  “I would tell my middle school self to not be nervous and don't second guess myself and just really go for it and just be confident. That's the main thing, and now I feel like I've achieved that.” 

When asked what a better world would look like, Shrida stated that it “would be a world where people have the freedom to express themselves.”Her dream is to become a traveling physician or even volunteer her time in the future and provide adequate care in countries who need our help. “I hope to have the ability to give my time to others in an effort to show them that there are people who care and show them that they too can achieve anything. Many countries have very strict restrictions on what females can do and I hope to push those bounds and show women around the world that they can do anything they set their mind to.” She hopes for a world that affords equal opportunities for all; simply allowing all people to have their basic human rights and use those rights and freedoms to express themselves. “I am grateful to have had so many wonderful platforms where I could be my true self and share my piece with the community around me, and I hope I can help others achieve that too.”

As Shrida is graduating this spring she discusses how her long term goals and aspirations are to become a physician and start her own cooperative practice that attends to the body holistically. Shrida grew up in an Eastern medicine household, she hopes to incorporate these practices in her cooperative practice, to not have it feel as though it is just a service to treat wounds or just have patient rooms. She hopes to have a garden for peace of mind, a swimming pool for therapy and rehabilitation, and so much more that can help individuals physically, mentally, and emotionally. Shrida wants to create a practice that is a safe space for patients; “Somewhere that they can go for help and they know that they're going to get the help they need.” Shrida’s pediatrician played a huge role in her inspiration, while also helping Shrida feel that it was a safe space for her to talk to her doctor about anything". Shrida has a well thought out future ahead of her, one thing she believes in, you should pursue things you are passionate about and enjoy. Though she has a lot on her plate, she is doing things she enjoys and is truly passionate about. She believes that no one should be pressured to choose one thing over another, and above all else, believing in yourself and continuing to do things that correlate with your values is the most important.

Ania Ty (she/her) is a third year undergraduate at OSU majoring in Political Science (Law & Politics) and Public Policy (Environmental Policy), she is also dual minoring in Public Health and Ethnic Studies. Ania is from Beaverton, Oregon, which is where she first got involved in community engagement by volunteering at the assisted living facility where her mother worked. While volunteering, she painted patients’ nails and listened to their life stories. Though Ania doesn’t visit assisted living facilities as much anymore, she still engages in her community by giving those who are traditionally silenced a place to speak and amplify their voice.

Ania now works, interns, and volunteers at places such as the Asian & Pacific Cultural Center (APCC), Isang Bansang Pilipino, the Benton County District Attorney's Victim Assistance Program, Corvallis Housing First, Our Climate, Asian Pacific American Advocates, and the Filipino Community of Seattle. Ania continues to cultivate spaces that allow for young BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) folks to feel empowered in making change in their communities. One way she has done this, and continues to do so, is by creating and compiling free resources to highlight how Asian & Pacific Islander (API) communities are affected by climate change and encourage other young community members to get involved.

Ania's core value is authenticity. She values those who have given her genuine feedback and are able to have tough, uncomfortable conversations with her. She believes that you need at least one person in your life that isn’t afraid to give you this feedback. Ania states, “those are the people that are going to help you grow the most and make sure that you're accountable to yourself and to others, and the community that you serve.” Ania deeply cares about these people, as they’re the ones to call you out with love, and to help you not burn out or overexert yourself.

This connects with Ania’s advice of setting boundaries. Ania's advice to her past self would be to set boundaries when engaging in social justice work, as this work can be emotionally exhausting when educating others about social issues. Ania expresses how there is this innate drive to maintain a good reputation and be a good representative for her community. “We're not super humans, we are people, we have our own personal responsibilities, and we have our own emotional fatigue that we feel.” As Ania said before, social justice work can be exhausting especially when you yourself are dealing with discrimination, it is important to take breaks and practice self-care to ensure you don’t burn out. 

Having witnessed the consequences of water pollution, Ania became passionate about pursuing a career in addressing climate change. Ania intends to work in major climate and immigration policy hubs to advocate for legislation addressing the influx of immigrants, migrant workers, and other communities continually displaced by climate change. She hopes to effectively address it’s impacts by strengthening and creating opportunities for climate refugees to migrate with dignity. Ania also hopes to attend law school and work at nonprofit and governmental organizations as an immigration attorney so she can ensure those with climate-change related asylum claims receive the protections they deserve. She hopes to expand her work beyond the United States and return home to the Philippines, where she can provide legal counsel to communities severely impacted by super typhoons. Her love for the environment and her communities is what makes her passionate in the path she has chosen. Ania is confident the communities she cherishes will always be at the center of her work.

Jeremy Chu (he/him) ~ alumni

Jeremy Chu (he/him), an alum of Oregon State University and first-generation college student, graduated in 2018 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. Jeremy is from Hillsboro, Oregon, and like many former students, he recalls being unsure about his career path. Having grown up without health insurance for most of his childhood and being a first-generation college student, health and education were always of interest to him. But, he still recognizes that college was an important stepping stone in a long journey of self-discovery, stating, “when I first made it to OSU, I was like many students: trying to build my identity and discover myself. I tried out every possible opportunity that came my way because I was interested in many things.” 

Jeremy found his way to the Center for Civic Engagement, now known as Community Engagement & Leadership (CEL). In his first year at OSU, he participated in CEL’s Alternative Spring Break program that took him to San Francisco, CA, where he took part in service-learning projects to examine systemic causes of hunger and houselessness. The experience helped Jeremy discover the role of civic engagement and education in breaking down inequitable systems. Wanting to learn more, Jeremy returned to CEL to work as a student employee and eventually led the same Alternative Spring Break trip his senior year that he participated in during his first year at OSU. “It was the Alternative Spring Break trip with CEL that really changed my perspective on what it means to serve your community.”

Jeremy carried his passion for service after graduation to become a high school Physics teacher in a Title I school with Teach for America (TFA) in Houston, Texas. Being a teacher was a fulfilling experience for Jeremy. He highlights the joys of doing balloon chair labs, taking his students to iFLY and the Johnson Space Center, and hosting a STEM panel with engineers of color for his students. But just as rewarding of an experience as it was for him, it was equally as challenging. Besides working 60-hour weeks and navigating dysfunctional school systems,  teaching allowed him to see how inequities were directly impacting his students. Jeremy noticed many of his students struggled with mental and physical health issues and lacked the ability to access health care. This lack of access impeded his students’ ability to focus on their education.

Jeremy believes in the idea that one cannot show up as their best self if one’s needs are not being met. He states, “I don’t think any aspect of a person's life can be looked at in isolation. If you have needs in your life that are not being met, you can’t possibly be available to be your best - to show up as your best professionally, in education, or in your personal life.” This is a lesson he learned while navigating depression in college. He found that prioritizing a healthy lifestyle was vital in taking care of his mental health and being able to show up as his best self for himself and others. Jeremy expressed being grateful for having the resources and social support to practice a healthy lifestyle, which includes healthy eating, regular exercise, and spending time with family and friends. But he understands that there may be barriers to living a healthy lifestyle, just as he saw with his students, who lacked access to health care.

Having recognized this, Jeremy decided to transition to education policy and advocacy to push for equitable education policies. He is currently advocating for equitable access to non-academic supports, such as mental health services, at the local-level with the Organizing Network for Education (ONE) Houston and at the state-level with The Education Trust in Texas. 

By putting his values to work, Jeremy was able to identify his goals and aspirations, leading him towards a different path than he had planned. Jeremy furthers this point by reminding us and newly graduated undergraduate students that, “you’re the one that knows what’s best for you...there’s so much pressure on people to just go through their degrees right away, and then you come out, and you’re like, ‘I’ve been in school for so long and I still haven’t really had time to develop for myself and [learn] what I want to do.’ Grad school will still be there for you. Take a year or two off. You may be surprised how much you develop as a person and as a professional, and graduate schools will see that.” 

Jeremy is now considering medical school as his next career path. He wants to become a family physician that serves low-income communities and advocates for equitable healthcare access. He is interested in working for a community health center because he believes that they can provide services to address social-related health factors, such as housing and food security, in addition to healthcare. Jeremy states, “I visited community health centers for doctor visits as a child when we did not have health insurance. I know how important these centers can be to communities.” Jeremy continues to push for equity within the intersections of health and education.

Throughout all of these life-altering decisions and opportunities, Jeremy was also on the path to understanding himself better - where his abilities lie, and the values, passions, and identities that were most salient to him. Grappling with what every human does on this planet: where do I fit in? As a Chinese American, Jeremy had his own assumptions about his identity and what it meant to be Asian American, but when he started teaching with Teach for America, again his perspective shifted. Jeremy shares that this change in cultural recognition was due to his students, stating,“I found that by celebrating my students' cultures and identities, along with my own, we created more empathy and community in the classroom. I find it necessary to be an ally for Black and Brown communities, while also uplifting underrepresented Asian Americans. I hope to be a role model rewriting the narrative of what people think of Asian American men.”

With a newfound sense of cultural competency through affirmation, validation, and empowerment, Jeremy’s path of self-discovery incited his desire to reach a broader audience and deepen his impact. By harnessing the perspectives and knowledge he gained during his time at CEL and TFA, he is now putting his values to work within the intersections of health and education. Along his winding path to this point, Jeremy has lived by the quote: "When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be" (Lao Tzu). Although Jeremy’s path forward may appear to be concrete now, he remains open to new opportunities for growth, as he reminds us to rethink what it means to take care of ourselves while following our passions so we can become what we might be.

Growing up in San Diego County, California, Coral Avery has truly created her own story by intentionally setting herself up for success in her pursuit of creating social and environmental change. When she graduated from high school, Coral knew exactly where she wanted to study, but was barred by the cost as an out-of-state student. In order to accomplish her goal of attending Oregon State University, all while being financially independent, Coral attended her first year of college at Palomar Community College in San Marcos, California. Later, to receive in-state tuition, she moved to Portland, Oregon, and attended Portland Community College where she worked in the Rock Creek Learning Garden. After 2 years of strategically navigating her educational pathway, Coral arrived at Oregon State, the institution that she would soon realize needed her as much as she needed them.

Much of Coral’s work is inspired by the multiple identities that she holds. As she says, “I'm a queer non-binary indigenous fem and also a first-generation college student, so these identities have definitely contributed to the work I do and how I navigate spaces.” Coral is extremely passionate about social and environmental justice, and attributes this passion to her upbringing, identities, and life experiences. Her pursuit of social and environmental justice reflects her core value: fighting for those who don’t have a voice or who often go unheard. If she had the opportunity to make the world a better place tomorrow, she describes a better world as one in which, “society focuses on sustainability with social solutions first and invites all parties to the table for equitable action.” 

Throughout her youth, numerous social issues were, and still are, very apparent to Coral. Experiences of prejudice directed at her friends and family in her early adolescence led to a heightened awareness of discrimination in her community and active engagement in social activism early on. Coral experienced various challenges directed at her intersecting identities as well, but this only drove her to work harder -- because, as she elaborates, “no one group can be free while another suffers”. This regard for empathy, advocacy, and activism was instilled in her youth as a childhood cancer survivor. The community built around that experience has been with her since she was 4 years old and she continues to volunteer with them today to support those going through similar experiences. Coral makes it clear that this is just one important piece of her identity in stating, “I beat my cancer, it doesn’t define me.” Her ongoing fight for those whose voices go unheard is inspired by all the identities and life experiences she holds.

Arriving at Oregon State, Coral sought community in following her passions to create social and environmental change through multiple avenues. Her first term, she co-founded the Associated Students of Oregon State University’s (ASOSU) Environmental Council -- a program that brings environmental clubs and organizations together to organize for university and city-wide sustainability efforts. Over the years, she worked for DAMchic Magazine, volunteered at DCE events including Powwow and Drag Night, became a member of 3D (Dam Diverse Dance), and engaged in several clubs and organizations including Native American Student Alliance (NASA), Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Club, Veg Club, Envi Sci Club, Geo Club, Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics, Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), and more. Beyond her campus involvements, Coral studied abroad in the spring of 2018 at the University of Tübingen in southwest Germany and returned to work on campus for her last two years as a Peer Adviser at the Office of Global Opportunities (OSU GO). Coral’s leadership journey at OSU culminated in her final year serving as the ASOSU Coordinator of Environmental Affairs. She recalls this involvement as one of the most meaningful experiences she’s had at OSU because of the opportunities her projects created in collaboration with, and for, other students and community members. When asked, ‘what advice would you give someone who is looking to make an impact?’ she responds, “all you need is a vague plan and some hope.”

In the Fall of 2020, Coral will be a Bachelor of Science graduate with a double degree in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and Sustainability and will earn a minor in German. Currently, Coral is continuing to pursue her passions through her work with the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) in Corvallis, OR. In her new position centering climate resilience, she will focus on projects from assessing Tribal climate reports to planning the youth track of the National Tribal Leadership Climate Change Summit. Coral is excited for this position and sees it as a perfect medley of her values merged with her love for the arts, research, event planning, education/youth development, community sustainability, climate action, and Tribal resilience. In sharing her story, Coral hopes that others will be encouraged to connect to community, follow their passions, and at the end of the day, fight for what’s right.

Coral Avery (she/her, they/them)

 

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Lily Butler (she/her)

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Lily Butler is a second year undergraduate student at Oregon State University studying Natural Resources and Sustainability with minors in French and Spanish. Originally from Eugene, Oregon, she has continuously shown up for her community from a young age. Lily’s involvement with her community began as a pre-teen with her local library, where she participated in a teen volunteering program known as ‘Teen Team’ to complete various library maintenance tasks. Lily continued to volunteer with the Teen Team almost every week until she graduated high school, and she fondly recalls this time as the genesis for her passion for volunteering. 

Meanwhile, Lily also volunteered her time at a local nonprofit known as Ophelia's Place, where she helped produce “Training Bra Monologues” for young girls in her community (inspired by the 1996 play Vagina Monologues). Additionally, she held membership in the  Oregon Natural Desert Association of Bend, Oregon, where it was a family tradition to participate in ecosystem restoration projects. These organizations solidified Lily’s desire to continue on her path of serving her community. She states with conviction, “growing up and doing all of these things, I felt like there was no way that service wasn’t going to be a part of my life.”

As her high school career came to an end, she had to make the decision as to how she would continue her service throughout her college career at Oregon State University. On-campus, she has been involved in many campus organizations, including Campus Recycling, Waste Watchers, Eco-Reps, and Alternative Spring Break through Community Engagement and Leadership. Before attending OSU, Lily struggled with understanding her identity and where to focus her energy, but along the way, she has met others who share the same enthusiasm for working towards change. She says that the university has provided her space for her to “reinvent” herself by allowing her to fully embody her passions and align her actions with her values. Lily mentions that although her involvement and passion for the environment and sustainability seemed to bloom spontaneously, her passion for equity and justice made a strong foundation for her work. She believes that a better world is a world in which  “Everyone and everything is respected and given the support they need to succeed in life. Where everyone’s contributions and identities are valued and systems of oppression are dismantled completely.”An embodiment of her personal growth comes forth in a quote she resonates with by Desmond Tutu, which states, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."

Through pursuing her passions, she hopes to produce life-long habits that push towards an ideal world consisting of open communication and positive thinking and action. Lily plans to graduate in the spring of 2022, and thereafter, she plans to pursue graduate school to study environmental policy and to enroll in an Americorps program to serve communities around the country.