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Sustainability Spotlight Heroes: Kait Kostelnik & Marlena Fay Harwood

Congratulations to Kait Kostelnik and Marlena Fay Harwood, our May Sustainability Spotlight Heroes!



has done some fantastic work for the Auraria Sustainable Campus program in the past, like animating our Truth Behind the Trash film and compiling our orientation video you might have seen. She is a a Colorado native and an artist focusing mainly on acrylic painting and photography, but also works in design and videography. Much of her work is based on sustainability and nature due to her deep connection and passion about preserving it. You can check out her portfolio on her website,!

Kait is most passionate about waste management and water quality, but is also interested in all aspects of sustainability. Her goal is to create connection through art and to learn from the world around her. She is currently a Digital Design student at the University of Colorado Denver. Post-graduation, her goal is to connect with people and nature through creativity, however that may look.

The journey to the Auraria Campus and UCD was a long one for Kait. She had attended CSU for a semester and realized it wasn't where she belonged. Kait took a semester off to travel and work, but knew she wanted to complete her education. Attending CU Denver was a decision on testimony about their good Arts and Media program, not an entirely well-planned decision, but she is so glad she did holding that it's the best decision she ever made.

Currently, Kait is a graphic designer for the Event and Activities Team, a member of Outdoor Adventure staff at the CU Student Wellness Center, and has worked with the Auraria Sustainability Program. Kait believes that the Auraria Campus is an incredible space for inclusivity, learning, and exploration that has allowed her to explore all of her passions and find a way to combine them all.

Outside of being a student, she spends most of her time working on her art projects, incorporating sustainability as much as possible. She makes videos discussing different areas of sustainability with various sustainable leaders through her canvas+conversations series on YouTube. She creates works out of recycled material and takes photos to demonstrate both success our successes and failures in nature while also showcasing the importance of green living through her art. Creativity has been her way of understanding the world, sharing messages and telling stories through her work. Sustainability is a complex topic, but Kait believes that if she can inspire someone else through her work then she has successfully done what she has set out to do while learning in the process.

Congratulations to Kait! Here's quick message she would like to share:

I want to say thank you to the sustainability team for always working hard to create a more eco-friendly campus, and for including me in their projects. I have been incredibly lucky to work with such a fantastic team of people. I hope to see you on campus at the rock wall or a campus event!



is a second-year graduate student in the M.S. Environmental Science program in the Dept. of Geography and Environmental Science at CU Denver. Marlena’s interest in Environmental Science stemmed from a naturalist internship she had after receiving her B.S. in Biology from UT Austin. She spent the summer leading nature hikes, snowshoe excursions, and teaching residents and visitors of Eagle County, Colorado of the importance of conservation and science, and she knew it was time to start practicing what she preached.

Marlena came to CU Denver in the Fall of 2019 because she felt that Denver could be the next big Green City, and she wanted to be a part of that.

I loved the idea of attending a university that was so central to Downtown Denver. There are so many opportunities for growth, connections, and ways to make meaningful impacts on the communities of the Greater Denver Area.

Soon after the beginning of her graduate career, she realized that there were great strides to be made right here on campus. Marlena currently serves as the chairperson for the Student Advisory Committee to the Auraria Board (SACAB), as well as the Auraria Sustainable Campus Program Advisory Committee (ASCPAC), where she advocates for the implementation of sustainable practices on campus, social justice, and elevation of the student voice. She has worked diligently in her role as SACAB Chair to address social sustainability by working to strengthen the relationship between ACPD and the student body.

For Marlena, sustainability is not just her career, it’s the very basis for her everyday actions.

Sustainability reminds me that every part of my being and existence is tied to this big, beautiful planet we all inhabit. It is our duty to protect nature and ensure its health and beauty for generations to come, and sustainability is my way of saying thank you to Mother Earth!

In other words, every day is Earth Day!

Marlena encourages everyone who is interested in sustainability and environmental justice to get involved with their communities, peers, or institutions. Her dream is to see all students on campus engaged and involved with green initiatives on campus. Are you concerned about sustainability on campus, and want your voice to be heard? Join the Auraria Sustainable Campus Program Advisory Committee, and share your thoughts and ideas on how Auraria Campus can be a shining green beacon of sustainability in Denver!


Congratulations to Kait and Marlena for being our May Sustainability Spotlight Heroes!



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