As part of our December theme of Waste, the ASCP would like to introduce you to Cassy Cadwallader, our Waste Diversion Specialist!!
Cassy moved from Colorado Springs to Ohio when she was ten years old where she grew up and eventually attend college studying Psychology. She saw that her world view was changing and went to The Ohio State University to study International Studies, becoming increasingly more interested in service work, the sociology of poverty, and how she could make a change. Coincidentally, she learned that one of her Professors had done AmeriCorps Vista which sparked Cassy's interest, though she eventually settled on City Year; a nonprofit which focus on the education gap in the lowest performing schools in the nation.
City Year aims to uplift academics and attendance with a goal of one and a half years of growth within only one year. Cassy was up for the challenge and got the job in the western region where she found herself back in her home state of Colorado!! She volunteered for two years and learned a great deal about how the world operated outside of her own while working in the Sun Valley neighborhood near the Auraria Campus. Some of her students through City Year had family members attend school on the Auraria Campus and working in City Year without a bachelors caught her a lot of flack. Cassy was inspired to return to school on the Auraria Campus, focused on learning about the international nexus between environmental and social justice after a trip to Uganda and Rwanda through City Year.
Cassy reached out to an advisor from MSU Denver who put her in touch with Sara Jackson Shumate, Ph.D who left Cassy feeling like she could absolutely place herself at Metro with plenty of work and internship opportunities. One of those work opportunities, as fate would later have it, would be the ASCP!! Cassy learned of the ASCP within her first year at MSU Denver during a course called Sustainable Mitigation Planning. During this course, students applied for an ASCP Grant, much like our current Green Grants program, and presented to ASCP staff who would decide if they wanted to back the project. Cassy didn't get involved with the ASCP then and there however, as she was meeting her professional goals with her fulltime position at Occasions Catering.
Occasions Catering really allowed Cassy to grow into the perfect ASCP asset she is today, developing skills she uses in her current role from nothing. After they received their green certification, Cassy was leading the way for more sustainable operation after interning for them. She was designated to create a sustainable events program and her own role, finding projects that the CEO and herself found interesting. Seeking to expand her reach within sustainability, she saw the ASCP and its pillars as an opportunity to address a broader spectrum of sustainability challenges that the Auraria Campus faced.
After presenting in DC with a geography professor on a Chilean Region's Hydroclimatic Data, she met a group of people headed to Chile, one of whom was an employee for the ASCP. After learning more about Cassy's background and evaluating the needs of the ASCP, she was hired on to launch Green Offices and Green Events! Soon, more staff were hired on to the ASCP and Cassy assumed a leadership position, helping organize and run bin-side education, waste audits, and stickering while developing the Green Events Mini Guide and Swag Guide. As COVID-19 ravished the nation and Cassy's student employment was coming to a close, she planned her next move, applying for her Current Position as Waste Diversion Specialist.
Since Cassy's hiring, she's been in charge of leading the ASCP's waste diversion goal of 35% by 2022 as outlined in 2019 Annual Report. A large portion of this diversion goal has been focused on increasing compost infrastructure on campus and bin deployment as part of the Compost Referendum which passed with 70% of the student vote. New waste diversion opportunities from the referendum include difficult to recycle item containers for cigarettes and beauty products in addition to back of house compost for vendors on campus! The campus will continue to see extended outdoor waste diversion infrastructure like bins and signs throughout 2021, and moving indoors in 2022. Organizing across the campus is a challenge in itself!
Interacting with three separate higher education institutions and AHEC to ensure our campus is meeting our goals can be confusing and difficult to get everyone on the same page. Many aspects of waste on campus are independent from one another such as construction waste from the new student lofts, to electronic waste from specific departments. A large matrix of people operate to dispose of waste on campus, and it's up to Cassy to ensure that waste is properly being diverted among them.
Cassy is looking forward to the future of the Auraria Campus, especially as more of the environmental and social justice nexus is explored. Being involved in the AHEC Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee and the Auraria Campus Police Department Community Advisory Board, she aspires to make campus better for all those that attend. The inextricable bonds between people and planet are undeniable, and she looks forward to what we can do to lift those things up together. As a side note, she's never been on so many boards in her life.
Aside from her role with the ASCP, Cassy wishes she could fix greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and transportation in addition to social justice inequalities and food insecurity on campus. By examining food procurement and its impact on campus, she believes ethical access to food could reach all students on campus and create a circular system of food and waste.
So next time you choose to compost on campus, or plan a green event, thank ASCP's Cassy Cadwallader for her commitment to helping the Auraria Campus reduce it's ecological footprint. We're proud to have her, and we hope you enjoy the work she does for you!!