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July 20, 2021

Sustainably Successful


Kristen Smith ’23 has been taking an impressive course load at Guilford. The Maryland native is a double major in Environmental Studies and Sustainable Food Systems with a minor in African and African American Studies.

“I started off as just a shy girl from Baltimore, but thanks to Guilford I’m the president of the Campus Activities Board, the secretary for the Food Justice Club, the Information Desk Assistant, a Resident Adviser, an Orientation Leader, and I hope next year to be on the executive board for the Black Student Union."

Kristen Smith '23
Environmental Studies, Sustainable Food Systems double major

Although she didn’t plan to attend to an out-of-state school, the small class sizes and accessibility to professors at Guilford impressed her, so Kristen took the leap and moved to North Carolina.

Her passion for Environmental Studies developed organically while attending magnet schools for middle and high school that had a green focus.

“I was originally attracted to Guilford because of the number of STEM majors the College offers. I entered my first year as an undecided major, but deep down I knew I wanted to pursue something in the sciences so it was good having a variety of majors to choose from,” Kristen says. “The icing on the cake, however, was how much attention Guilford focuses on sustainability.”

She added the African and African American Studies minor to learn more about her culture and history, which she appreciates for many reasons, including its timeliness “with all that’s going on in the world today.” She particularly notes that it’s been fascinating to learn more about African American history, discovering how it ties in with American history overall and how that knowledge can lead to positive change.

Campus Life

Outside of the classroom, Kristen stays quite busy. For one, she’s the information desk assistant for the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement (OSLE).

“I think OSLE is the most important place on campus. It brings students together and it’s there to make everyone feel better. I go for discussions. It’s been a huge help during COVID,” she shares.

“I started off as just a shy girl from Baltimore, but thanks to Guilford I’m the president of the Campus Activities Board, the secretary for the Food Justice Club, the Information Desk Assistant, a Resident Adviser, an Orientation Leader, and I hope next year to be on the executive board for the Black Student Union,” she says.

Post-grad Life

Kristen plans to attend graduate school after Guilford and ultimately wants to complete her doctorate. She is searching for programs that combine her two majors in an interesting way. 

“I’m looking into environmental science with the goal of being a scientist or becoming a green engineer,” she says. “If I were to pursue a career in engineering I would become an environmental engineer. I took classes in what felt like every subject before I realized that I want to help people through the environment. The environment is something everyone uses and needs to survive but is sadly taken for granted or used as a way to control low-income communities. I believe that if I help people using the environment, it could lead to great change in other aspects of life and essentially creating a better life for all.”

What wisdom does she have to share with new students who have similar aspirations? “Communicate. That’s the most important thing,” Kristen explains. “Whether you’re falling behind or whether you’re not understanding the content, it’s really important to communicate with your professors and parents.”

Are you looking for a North Carolina college that offers a variety of STEM programs, as well as liberal arts courses? Learn more about Guilford during a personalized tour. Schedule your visit today.