Mel Devoney is a Student with a Plan


Mel Devoney has such a passion for protecting the environment that she knows environmental studies will play into her major focus at Occidental College in Los Angeles when she starts there in the fall as a freshman.

She thanks the Center for Environmental Studies for the clarity it gave her in knowing what she wants to do with her education – and with her life.

Mel is 18 and a recent graduate of Amherst Regional High School. She was a member of her high school’s Environmental Action Club throughout her four years there, but she says it took a summer at CEC to help her realize why environmental action work is so important, how to best go about it and to keep her expectations in check.

“I had a lot of opinions about environmental policies, but I learned how to present my arguments and get them out there and make them convincing to others,” she said. “And I now know I can’t just lobby for a bill and be all idealistic about it. We have to have small goals and know there are more steps we have to go through for each one.

“Overall,” she adds, “I think the most exciting part about the summer academy was now I can say I’m not as nervous speaking about things I care about. In school, oral communications class didn’t help me with public speaking, but just one week at the academy helped a lot.”

In high school, as part of the Environmental Action Club, Mel helped bring a recycling and composting program to Amherst Regional, and she took part in clean-up activities for the Connecticut River and in a local sustainability fair. She was a leader in the club in her last few years.

Who knows what she will accomplish in college and beyond, but one thing is clear: CEC had a role in shifting her thinking from idealist to realist with a plan.

“It made me think more reasonably about what needs to be done,” she says, noting now she doesn’t simply take the attitude of, “If everybody cares, why isn’t it happening?”

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