By Kristina Michel
UH Office of Sustainability communications assistant Gabriela Contreras placed third in the NACAS national student author contest.
Her essay, “Auxiliary Services: The Push Behind Sustainability at the University of Houston,” will be published in an upcoming issue of College Services magazine, the organization’s quarterly magazine. She will also receive $400, courtesy of Starbucks, which sponsored the competition.
Contreras’ essay was a reflection of her time as a student worker in the Office of Sustainability. She wrote about the office’s many great accomplishments in increasing sustainability outreach and initiatives on campus and for the community.
“When I heard about the contest, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to showcase what the Office of Sustainability team has worked so hard to accomplish,” said Contreras. “I’m so excited and proud that our office will be featured in a national publication.”
During Contreras’ time as a student worker, the Office of Sustainability has seen some major milestones in sustainability-related initiatives on campus. UH recently earned Gold status in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) report, the only university in Texas to do so. On May 7, the Office of Sustainability held the planting for Shasta’s Prairie, which will serve as a natural habitat for native Texas coastal plants and pollinators, and will act as a living lab for student researchers.
Contreras hopes to continue her involvement in energy and sustainability long after she graduates. She said she will cherish the lessons she’s learned working in the Office of Sustainability and the bond she’s formed with her co-workers and her manager, Sarah Kelly.
“I will never forget the friendships I’ve made here,” said Contreras. “My job with the Office of Sustainability didn't just add to my undergraduate experience; it completely changed it, and for the better.”
Originally known as the National Association of College Auxiliary Services, NACAS is the largest auxiliary services support organization serving higher education. College Services magazine can be viewed online.