“For me, sustainability is a lifestyle,” said Stephanie Dooper, a graduate student pursuing an M.A. in Higher Education and a Dow Fellow. “Especially as I pursue my degree in education, I am very aware of the way our campus structures are designed to reflect our priorities.”
Before coming to Michigan, Dooper graduated from the University of Louisville with degrees in Political Science and Liberal Studies. The master’s program in higher education is offered through the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the U-M School of Education and is designed to increase knowledge about the field of higher education, through theory and practice. Dooper is also involved in the Dow Fellows Program, which appealed to her because of its focus on interdisciplinary approaches to sustainability issues and solutions.
“As a student pursuing my M.A. in Higher Education, I see the need for a variety of perspectives to create outstanding results,” Dopper said. “Currently, in my team, I have found that I am learning to approach problems from various lenses and greatly appreciate, value and admire the unique methods my teammates provide.”
Alongside a rigorous academic course load, Dopper is an intern for the Library Student Engagement Program, a participant in the Ross Leaders Academy, a Program Coordinator for CRLT-Engineering and a member of the Women's Club Soccer Team.
“All of these experiences have made my time here at U-M very enriching and have cultivated life-long relationships, Dopper said. “Through the Ross Leaders Academy, I have further explored my values, purpose, and my reflected best self, which has all translated into many avenues of my time here, especially in choosing a project for the Dow Fellowship.”
The majority of Dopper’s work in sustainability has been in research and outreach. In her undergraduate career, she focused her senior thesis project on bicycle transportation policy and conducted field research in the Netherlands.
“I explored policies that would increase ridership, and analyzed methods that would create more bike sustainable cities,” Dooper said. She has conducted research on permeable pavements, university food purchases, and affordable housing. “I hope to combine my interest in sustainability with higher education in the future to help create more environmentally conscientious campus environments and curriculums.”
Dopper credits her lifelong passion for sustainability to her father, who is a Dutch citizen.
“[He] played an integral role in teaching the importance of being an active citizen, taking responsibility for my surroundings, and living simply and respectfully. When my father and I would run together, we would carry bags to pick up trash and recyclables as we went. We often had conversations about environmental conservation; I spent most of my time outdoors.”
Dopper discussed the way these memories provided the foundation of her love for the environment.
“The feelings of awe and wonder I feel after a long hike, a kayaking trip, or even a trail conservation effort, is something that I hope to provide for others, hopefully through environmental education,” Dopper said. “I see immense valuable in fostering communities surrounding outdoor adventures and see a future where I help create these experiences.”