Jessica Ohrt: Sustainability Scout

Jessica Ohrt’s passion for sustainability can be traced back to her days as a volunteer with the Girl Scouts, where there was often a focus on environmentalism and community building. One of her all-time favorite roles was as a Girl Scouts Service Unit Director.

“I felt joy and a sense of purpose because I was creating a group of girls and adults who were interested in making the world a better place,” Jessica says.

Today, her life has come full circle — many of the things she learned through that role she now studies through her program at ASU Online.

Jessica’s ASU journey began while working at Starbucks, where she discovered the company’s College Achievement Program. While she didn’t set out to study sustainability, she enjoyed what she was learning so much that she decided to continue with the program after her first semester. At age 42, Jessica had previously only completed about half of a college degree.

“Before looking into the CAP program, I wasn’t even thinking about going back to school,” Jessica explains. “But as I started to research more about sustainability and the program ASU Online offered, I became very interested in it. I am really happy with my choice.”

In particular, she has been pleasantly surprised by the comparison between an online and on-campus experience.

“It is more challenging because you really have to stay on top of it, but ASU does a good job of encouraging group work and interacting with people outside of class,” she says. “I never thought I’d like virtual meetings, but it’s been such an important part of my learning that has in turn helped me to start volunteering and get out there to network.”

One of her class assignments required reaching out to locals in the field of sustainability for informational interviews. Jessica conducted 10 interviews, leading to a potential internship, and was able to use ASU’s career services as an important resource throughout the experience.

“Something I had to consider as I was meeting these contacts was how to make an impression in the real world,” she says. “I’ve always been a stay-at-home mom or worn a uniform, so have never had to do the business casual thing. Career services was useful in figuring out where to go to get that information.”

To be successful as an online learner, Jessica stresses independence, good time management skills and the ability to prioritize.

“Figure out where to focus your time — and choose wisely,” she says. “I’ve also met with my academic advisor several times to make sure I’m on track to graduate, and always contact my advisor or Success Coach if I have questions.”

Looking ahead, Jessica hopes to work for a nonprofit organization, incorporating her experience with youth into her future career path.

“I would love to either create or join a program that brings awareness of sustainability issues to the next generation,” she says.

Learn more about ASU Online’s Bachelor of Arts in sustainability.

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