Meet Patrick Foley, College Sustainability Fellow!

October 3, 2012

By now, many of you have met Patrick Foley, William & Mary’s current Sustainability Fellow. Since the summer, Patrick has been at the epicenter of sustainability initiatives at the College. I was able to speak with Patrick last week, and learn more about what lead him to this position!

Q: What do you do as the College Sustainability Fellow?

A: As the College Sustainability Fellow, I work with students, faculty and staff to coordinate sustainable initiatives across the campus. The project I’m most involved with at the moment is the College’s proposed Eco-Village, a sustainable living community that is going to be energy independent from the rest of campus and a signal of our college’s commitment moving forward to being green.

Q: How did you first get interested in environmental issues?

A: When I was little, I used to read Koko’s Kitten every night before bed. Koko’s Kitten is the story of Koko the gorilla who uses sign language to express her love and commitment to her pet kitten, All Ball. When I was in 4th or 5th grade, I decided to do a research project on gorillas because i wanted to talk about Koko…and that is when I learned about the bushmeat crisis in South Africa and that gorillas were being rapidly brought to the point of extinction. I then wanted to make it my life’s goal to protect Koko the gorilla and all the gorillas so they could have a place to live.

Q: How did you get involved with sustainability at William & Mary?

A: As a freshman, I was involved with the Sharpe Community Scholars, a program designed for incoming students interested in community service and local outreach. Through the program, I worked on an initiative designed to assess the feasibility of installing a green roof on the William & Mary campus. My participation in this program led me to volunteer for the College’s Committee on Sustainability, and I’ve been hooked ever since!

Q: What do you think is the biggest environmental challenge facing our generation?

A: It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly one area, but I think one that deserves to be mentioned and is often overlooked is the inevitable decline of infrastructure that would accompany any level of global climate change. While most people are aware of the effects that global climate change and rising sea levels would have on different species, there’s a general lack of knowleddge about the economic and social cost that would accompany such a change. For instance, communities living along coasts would face a crisis of almost unfathomable proportions if the current estimates prove true. This was an issue I worked on very closely when I was working at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School and it was the subject of my research as an undergraduate as well. I think that’s one issue I’d want students and the general public to be more aware of.

Q: You graduated from William & Mary just last year. How has life changed now that you’re no longer a student?

A: You start to realize that there’s more to life than grades and academics. I think when I was a student I was very singularly focused on that, and I still see that with many William & Mary students now. When you see it from an outsider’s perspective, it’s funny that we’re so into our studies. Not that studies aren’t important, but remember to have fun too!

Q:What’s your favorite memory of William & Mary as a student?

A: One time I snuck into a panel discussion with Sandra Day O’Connor and I was so beyond excited for the entire thing! And, any time I was in a class with Professor Nemacheck.

Q: What is your favorite book?:

A: Henry Clay, Statesman for the Union by Robert Remini

Q:Top 3 musical artists?:

A: Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, and Jennifer Hudson

Q: Favorite movie?:

A: Dreamgirls

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