Emma Heins is a graduate student in the La Follette School of Public Affairs, where she is studying environmental policy with a focus in public health outcomes in low-income communities. Emma serves as the At-Large Graduate Student Representative on UW–Madison’s Sustainability Advisory Council, helping to shape the future of campus’s advancements on sustainability.
Where did you complete your undergraduate degree, and what did you study?
I did my undergrad at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and I double majored in Geology and Environmental Studies, with a minor in Public Health.
What drew you to the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Energy Analysis and Policy (EAP) program?
I chose to come to UW for the La Follette School of Public Affairs and the EAP program because a great part of my undergrad was being a part of a smaller program within a very large research institution. I knew that I would be able to get the individualized support and mentorship that I really value, while also being able to explore all of the resources that UW has to offer their grad students.
Can you describe your role as the At-Large Graduate Student Representative on UW–Madison’s Sustainability Advisory Council?
My role is to serve as a representative for graduate students in the prioritization process as the Sustainability Advisory Council (SAC) takes an in-depth look at our sustainable methodology and implementation across all focus areas, ranging from strategic planning to student engagement to facilities operations. I also help facilitate a student subcommittee meeting that discusses student priorities more in depth, and then the other undergraduate representatives and I present those priorities to the council. At the end of this academic year, we will compile all of the priorities from this whole year into a final report to be presented to UW administration for their review and implementation.
What is your favorite part of being involved in the Sustainability Advisory Council?
My favorite part of this is getting to hear everyone’s perspectives from all over campus. There are people on the council from academic departments, operations management, the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement (DDEEA), athletics, and many other areas, and they all bring such a unique perspective and good ideas that they’ve implemented in their spheres. It’s great to hear all of the collaboration from across this huge university.
What is one unique thing about you that not many people know?
Something unique about me is that I lived in India for a summer during undergrad doing public health research about menstrual stigma and reproductive health in low-income communities. It was one of the most fun and educationally transformative experiences I’ve ever had! I will encourage everyone to go work or study abroad at some point in their lives if they have the opportunity.
Any post-graduation aspirations you would like to share? Dream job?
Post grad I would like to be working in climate policy advocacy, hopefully in the DC area, and my dream job would be working towards a renewable energy grid transition from an equity lens.