Alumni Profiles

Rachel Maunus

Campus: UNC
Hometown: Palm City, FL
High School: Martin County High School

While the community I was raised in is known for its beaches and fishing, its political dynamic, dominated by the interests of corporate agriculture and its vast economic disparity, ensures it is not the stereotypical seaside town. Government-sanctioned releases of pesticide-ridden water from Lake Okeechobee are the source of toxic algae blooms that render our typically vibrant river neon green, destroying mangroves, wildlife, and our local economy. Witnessing this anthropogenic damage in Martin County has instilled in me a profound appreciation for the necessity and power of community organizing. Driven to affect change, I joined our high school green club where I became president and worked tirelessly to create a school culture of sustainability. I am drawn to Environmental Studies’ intersection of academics and activism in seeking innovative solutions to climate change, and I believe my work within this field will empower me to make an impact locally and on the global stage. My goal is to engender a deeper culture of activism to empower the next generation of environmentalists and promote environmental stewardship throughout our entire community in order to cease discharges and restore the Saint Lucie River.

In addition to being a nature nerd, I worked throughout high school to learn how my passion for art could benefit children with disabilities. I began researching the healing power of creative expression for autistic children and created Art for Autism. For three years, I organized and taught free weekly art classes and volunteered throughout the school district at multiple after-school programs. I plan on involving myself in the special needs and arts community in North Carolina in order to bring the intersection of these two passions to my college education.

What drew you to the Robertson Program? 

The Robertson Program is unique in the way it empowers its students to become drivers of social change and the betterment of their community. This is a support system beyond my wildest dreams, and I was incredibly inspired by all of kind-hearted, passionate, and intelligent people I met at finalist weekend.

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