Alumnae Liza Schillo ’07 and Morgan Zemaitis ’17 appreciate the interdisciplinary nature of their Carolina degrees, an aspect that has fueled their rewarding careers in sustainability and energy.
Schillo, who received a B.A. in environmental studies, is manager of product sustainability at Levi Strauss & Co. in San Francisco. Zemaitis, who received a B.S. in environmental science with a minor in mathematical decision sciences, is an analyst in Enterprise Energy Solutions with Insight Sourcing Group in Atlanta.
Both returned to campus last spring — Zemaitis to the UNC Clean Tech Summit (her first time as an employer after attending three years as a student) and Schillo as the speaker for the environment and ecology curriculum’s graduation ceremony.
Zemaitis, who was a Morehead-Cain Scholar, had internships with a sustainable development NGO in Uganda and a utility company in San Francisco. She also worked on research in the UNC Energy Frontier Research Center under the direction of associate professor of chemistry James Cahoon.
“My goal after graduation was to find the opportunity that was going to give me the biggest learning experience,” she said. “The benefit of consulting is I get to see how energy and sustainability impact all levels of a corporation. Most of what I do is very data-driven, and I really appreciate that.”
Zemaitis said she is excited about the expanded focus on energy in the College of Arts & Sciences’ new Environment, Ecology and Energy Program (E³P).
“Environmental science allows you to explore so many different disciplines,” she said. “I think this will pave the way for more internship opportunities for students and keep the program on the forefront in the changing energy industry.”
Schillo, who went on to receive a dual MBA/master’s in environmental management from Duke University, founded Epsilon Eta, the environmental honors fraternity, while at UNC. That organization has grown to include chapters at Michigan State, Cornell, Penn, Pitt and NC State.
“I really valued how cross-cutting the UNC curriculum was. I learned about geography, climate change, economic policy. It gave me a well-rounded foundation to build from as I established my career,” she said.
At the spring graduation ceremony, Schillo told students the world is in desperate need of their skills because they understand not only the science of climate change, but also what makes a good story.
“You can connect the dots, and you have the ability to translate across sectors,” she told the students. “You are graduating at a pivotal moment in history for the environmental movement. Every minute counts. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that one person cannot change the world.”
Story by Kim Weaver Spurr ’88