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Lily Stewart, a native of Versailles, Kentucky, is a graduate of Woodford County High School and currently a senior at the University of Louisville majoring in sustainability.
“Sustainability is something I've always resonated with even though it's a fairly overlooked discipline,” said Lily. “Pursuing a degree in sustainability reinforces the importance of equity by aiming to meet currents needs without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same.”
Lily has always had a niche for learning in all aspects whether that is through work experience, volunteering, or a quick interaction with a stranger. “There is so much knowledge out there just waiting for me to consume,” said Lily.
Prior to joining the Metropolitan College program in Fall 2020, Lily completed a year-long study abroad program through Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Presently, Lily is a package handler and quality trainer at UPS Worldport and demonstrates active involvement on campus through experiential learning opportunities as an intern at UofL’s Department of Sustainability.
Additionally, Lily’s passion for sustainability led to an undergraduate research opportunity this year. “Since January, I have been assisting in independent research with Dr. Gilderbloom from UofL's Sustainability Department. This also includes collaborating with graduate students and other universities out of Washington D.C. and abroad,” said Lily.
Other recent accomplishments include a Beyond Waste Leadership Certification through the Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN).
“I want to convey that my motivation behind all of the past and current opportunities I've committed to lies within my passion for learning. Everything I do is because my heart is in it,” said Lily.
This spring, Lily received a nomination for the 2021 Outstanding Metropolitan College Student Award, an award that recognizes students who demonstrate outstanding leadership, work-life balance, and academic success.
Following graduation from UofL in May 2022, Lily plans to attend graduate school abroad and continue studying a similar discipline to sustainability.
Learn more about Lily Stewart in this Metropolitan College Spotlight Q&A Interview
Why did you decide to participate in the MC program?
My decision regarding participating in the MC program was made in the interest of personal development. I knew it would challenge me mentally, physically, and emotionally. It has been an opportunity to integrate growth within my personal life, educational career, and work life. The MC program has been an impetus behind my strengthened time management skills and allowed me to instill balance within my day-to-day routine.
What has been your involvement with co-curricular activities, co-ops or internships, volunteer experience, community service, undergraduate research, etc.?
In my year studying abroad in Auckland, New Zealand (NZ), I was active in Massey University's Alpine club, Sustainability club, and was the Event Planner for Massey University Student Enterprise (MUSE). I also gained direct work experience working with United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in NZ as a fundraiser where I contributed towards several international campaigns outreaching for the Syrian War and Lebanon crisis. Additionally, I volunteered with a local inner-city non-profit, the Yoga Lounge, where I helped prepare and serve hot meals. I have been a Zero-Waste intern with the Department of Sustainability since March 2020. My responsibilities include managing the community Free Store and empowering students/staff through zero-waste education through the annual Campus Race to Zero Waste competition and other smaller projects. Most recently, my role has been to conduct a campus wide waste evaluation report in partnership with the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN). They are a grassroots non-profit zero-waste organization. Further, my participation within the Sustainability department has included regularly volunteering during the annual Sustainability week and the Customer Facing Composting project (2020).
What has been your biggest challenge as a MC participant and how did you overcome these challenges?
My biggest challenge was adapting my current routine to the third shift schedule. However, it was also a great opportunity. It allowed me to integrate and shift my routine to a more appropriate and sensical schedule. This required patience and humility in working through the fatigue, stress, and physical toll these changes were taking. Now, I have been fully adapted to a new schedule for several months without having to sacrifice my presence in school or other opportunities.
How has working at UPS contributed to your personal and professional growth?
UPS has provided me with the tools to recognize the importance of investing in myself. Previously, I've struggled with taking too much on which has subsequently reduced the effort in which I'm able to put forth. The community at UPS and the schedule surrounding it, has aided in a greater support system. It's empowering to be with other students every night who also value attaining an education. Professionally, the many changes that come with working at UPS and being on the opposite schedule as many of my other commitments has motivated me to establish boundaries within work relationships, time commitments, etc. Nevertheless, it continues to push me to recognize my currents needs by planning ahead while also remaining flexible.
What person(s) has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
My mother is my biggest influence. To watch her, a strong, independent woman, raise three strong, independent women continues to empower me every day. She has been my greatest support here in Louisville and across seas while living abroad.
What advice do you have for students interested in the MC program?
You deserve compassion. There are changes in unknown territory that will be made and working through those with self-compassion is not only sustainable but also builds resilience.
What is an interesting or fun fact about yourself?
This April was my five-year anniversary of being vegan! I don't know many vegans here, so that's pretty interesting to me. Also, I'm currently in the beginning stages of conducting my undergrad thesis! I plan to research the impact of Covid-19 upon Asian Americans and its intersection with the Black Lives Matter movement.
We are proud of our current students and alumni and their incredible accomplishments! The MC Spotlight is a way for us to highlight the amazing things our current students and alumni are doing. As you read their stories, you will learn how their Metropolitan College experiences helped to shape their futures and influence their careers.
We are always on the lookout for inspiring MC Spotlight stories. If you or someone you know is interested in sharing a story with us, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: At Metropolitan College, we consider our alumni anyone who has ever completed coursework and received tuition benefits with us.
"As I got closer to high school graduation, I started to seriously wonder how I was going to pay for college and other bills at the same time. I remembered what UPS had to offer through the Metro College program. In my eyes, it was a win-win, no brainer.”
“I ran out of financial aid due to having earned one prior degree and a decent amount of loans out already. Metro College was the only way I could achieve my goal of being an attorney."