Senior Mary Auld is not only passionate about helping her local community, but she also strives to foster positive connections and experiences on an international level.
A native of Fairbanks, Alaska, Auld moved to New York when she was nine years old, but has continued to harbor a deep love for both exploration and the environment. She spent this summer back in her hometown working as a camp counselor for an ecology and nature education camp that she attended as a child.
“We were just running around the woods, making crafts and looking at animal prints for the whole summer,” she said. “I got to see a lot of Alaska and go on a lot of crazy hikes in the wilderness.” Auld noted that hiking is one of her favorite hobbies and that she was thrilled to be able to hike in the Appalachian trail in 2012.
A dedicated member of the Genesee Valley Cooperative, Auld noted that her desire to join a co-op first arose in high school when one of her friends spoke highly about her own involvement with a co-op at Cornell University.
“The thing that really drew me to it was that you kind of do these monotonous things like chores but, because everyone is invested in your home, you end up having a really nice place,” Auld said. “It’s this group working toward a goal that’s making everyone’s life a lot better.”
When Auld first arrived at Geneseo, the co-op did not exist; a co-op house was officially established in 2013. She explained that she attended one of the co-op’s community dinners and upon hearing Tom Silva ’15 talk about the organization, she knew she wanted to be a part of a co-op.
Auld’s investment in the co-op is demonstrated through the effort she puts into strengthening the co-op’s presence in the community. With the help of fellow co-op members junior Oliver Diaz and senior Greg Kalvin, Auld recently submitted a project proposal to Geneseo’s Center for Inquiry, Discovery and Development. Focused on community engagement, the proposal earned the co-op a Student Ambassadorship grant of $5,000.
Through the grant, Auld was able to attend the 2015 North American Students of Cooperation Institute program to meet with fellow co-op members across the country and to discuss and explore ideas about cooperative living.
Auld added that the grant will allow the co-op to host more events such as community dinners and skill-sharing workshops. The grant also helped the co-op to introduce their fall share program. The program comes from a partnership with Think Local Geneseo and Rochester’s Good Food Collective and allows students in Geneseo to purchase boxes of local bulk produce.
Auld emphasized the importance of engaging with the community in both personal and collective contexts. “It’s easy to be an irresponsible community member as a student because there’s such a disconnect—you’re here for four years, you move through and you’re done,” Auld said. “So being conscious about how we can contribute to the community in the short time that we’re here is something that’s important for the Geneseo community and also for the college. It makes it a more well-rounded experience to feel like you’re an actual human.”
As an English creative writing major with minors in environmental studies and psychology, Auld demonstrates the desire to be “well-rounded.” She is also a member of the Royal Lady Knights sorority.
Another one of Auld’s passions is traveling. She explained that she lived in Rome for a summer while working as an au pair and also took a semester off school to travel through Peru and Bolivia.
After graduation, Auld hopes to continue to travel and wants to combine her love of helping others and the environment and turn it into a career path. “I’m really interested in environmental education,” she said. “Something working with children outside and ecology—nature stuff.”
No matter where Auld lands in the future, she expressed her appreciation and gratitude for her time as a member of the Geneseo community.
“I’m so thankful that I came here because I’ve gotten such a great education and I’ve gotten to really explore a lot of different things,” she said. “I’ve run into a lot of good people.”