Nobody knows where passion may strike. Nobody can predict when an experience will forever change and shape a person’s identity, a person’s beliefs, and a person’s future. For me, that instance came during my second year at Columbia University, during a College Democrats rally against hydraulic fracturing. I had been on the executive board of the club the previous year, and had even played a role in organizing the rally and accompanying phone-bank. Being there that day and listening to speakers, however, struck a chord in me that awakened something I never realized was there.
I have always been interested in politics and the issues facing our nation and the world. Having worked in political activism since my junior year of high school, I consider myself to be keenly aware of many problems and debates that dominate our political process. There was never a single issue though that had sparked me to become something more than just a campaigner. I supported policies and candidates that were in line with my beliefs, but I never felt the need to actively change the way something is perceived, alter the discourse of a particular issue, or devote myself to a single cause. With my exposure to the issue of “fracking,” however, I found myself lit with the passion to become an activist.
Listening to the speakers that day caused me to want to learn more about the critical environmental and energy issues facing the United States and the world as a whole. I watched documentaries and read policy blogs, listened to interviews and sought out additional literature. I spent a summer working for Congressman Jerry Nadler, researching the energy crisis facing New York and recommending various policy suggestions. I co-founded the Columbia University Energy Club on campus, a group that aims to educate undergraduates on the critically important issues facing the energy industry today, and incorporating debates, field trips, and networking opportunities to encourage healthy discussion about it. I utilized my position as President of Alpha Epsilon Pi to engage the larger Greek community on this issue, and I used my position as President of the List College Student Council to advocate for reduced waste in the dining halls. Not everything I attempted was successful; on the contrary, many times I was met with apathy and disinterest. I have not stopped trying though, and slowly but surely I believe my ideas are being received on campus.
Becoming an energy and environmental student activist has led me to the field of environmental and energy law. Permeating the news today are stories of corporations being sued for violating various environmental statutes, energy companies bringing lawsuits against governments for refusing to allow them to drill on certain lands, and international legal agreements being made with regard to certain energy and environmental regulations. At the forefront of this issue are attorneys and policy makers who share the same passion as me for the field, for the issues facing the planet in the twenty-first century. These issues extend to many other areas that are of great importance to me, from protecting the property rights of landowners in the face of eminent domain, to the rights of corporations to do business, from the right of all people to a pollution-free environment, and to individuals for their right to pursue economic opportunity. These issues cross geographical, political, social, and economic divides, and affect every person in this nation and the world in a profound way.
I have committed myself to joining the fight to solve the critical environmental and energy issues that face all of us today. I have begun my story on the campus of Columbia University, and I hope to continue this story in law school. I want to help people who have been hurt by infractions of the law, and I want to assist those who are moving our world forward in a new direction. I want to educate people on the importance of these issues, and I want to involve myself with these issues in every feasible way. I have the passion to do this, now I want to make it a reality.
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