MaryKate SpethMary Kate Speth, Class of 2015
Chicago, Ill.
Major: Biology and Environmental Studies
Graduation Plans: Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering

“A Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering will help me establish a career with the Environmental Protection Agency. A job at the EPA will allow me to assist in solving various environmental problems, such as cleaning and organizing hazard sites and improving waste and water management.”    

Current Work and Research Project:

Although Speth is not presently engaged in a research project, she hopes to study the biological make-up and behaviors of various creatures and than research how this affects the ecosystem and the community as a whole.

“I believe a great way to do this is by researching and studying the 27-acre open space called Hunsberger Woods in Collegeville through the Summer Fellows Program,” she says. “What truly caught my eye was the small stream and reservoir on the land. I would love to research the workings of this small water ecosystem and how it affects the wood’s overall health and the surrounding community.”

Plans to promote the common good:

Speth plans to join Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and help many countries around the world build new and more advanced infrastructures, such as electricity and water systems. EWB assists these developing nations by providing the materials and human brainpower needed to build the infrastructures.

“By joining EWB I will not only help people by providing them with necessities, but I will also be spreading the idea of sustainability,” Speth says. “As an environmental engineer I will be able to ensure that the infrastructures that are being installed are the greener choice and I can teach the citizens about the importance of sustainability. These nations are the future consumers and producers of our world and their choices are going to determine the direction of earth.”

Most interesting leadership experience so far:

As a senior in high school, Speth took a class called Sustainable Engineering and Economic Development (SEED), which was a college level discussion and project-based course. The discussion and projects were centered on developing sustainable products and solutions for global environmental and poverty issues. The class of fifty students was often assigned one task to complete, which meant a student needed to step up and take charge.

“I often stepped up into this position,” says Speth, “in particularly on a project called ‘One Day Without Shoes.’’ This event included asking people to go one day without wearing shoes in order to experience the hardships the economically disadvantaged face daily. Speth created an event at her school encouraging everyone, from students to teachers to security guards, to go without shoes. She also invited students from around the city to join them in downtown Chicago to inform others about the event.

At  Ursinus, Speth is the catcher on the softball team where she calls the pitches and calls out plays. She was selected as a Bonner Leader on campus, which will allow her to lead a large service project of her choice that will benefit the college campus and the surrounding community.