Hometown: St. Louis, Mo.
Leaving a Footprint
As Davidson’s inaugural Sustainability Fellow, Kealy Devoy ’08 is helping keep Davidson red, black and green. She’s working with students, faculty and staff to assess the college’s impact on the environment, establish partnerships across and beyond the campus and help people take action that can lead to real change. “I believe young people can make a big difference in the future of our planet,” Devoy says, “myself included!”
Devoy says that a “Journey to Nicaragua” trip, sponsored by the Chaplain’s Office and Davidson College Presbyterian Church in her junior year, had “a huge effect” on her life and career plans. “I’d never seen poverty before. But when I went to Nicaragua, I saw 1,200 people living in the city dump, selling things from the trash to make money, sniffing glue to take their mind off their hunger.” Devoy says she was “completely destabilized” for several weeks. “Then I decided that whatever I did with my life needed to make a difference. I needed to be involved with something that matched up to my values.”
Think Global, Research Local
As an environmental studies major in Davidson’s Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, Devoy did her senior thesis on greenways in the Town of Davidson, focusing especially on the way that human interaction with nature builds human appreciation for nature, and how that in turn leads to pro-environmental behavior. “I wanted to know why people recycled, or why they didn’t,” Devoy says. “And that’s how I wound up creating my own major.” (Davidson also added an environmental studies concentration to its curriculum in 2007–08).
Uniting for Change
In her current job as Sustainability Fellow, Devoy coordinates the college’s “green” efforts—among students, across administrative offices and in the classroom. “What one person does on a day-to-day basis may not seem significant,” she says, “but when a group of people does something, it can have a huge impact. As a college, as a community, we can make a big difference.”
When her Davidson fellowship ends, Devoy is thinking about pursuing a graduate degree in environmental studies. And after that, she’d like to return to higher ed. “The energy of students,” she says, “is contagious.”