Student Spotlight: Kara Kelly

Senior Kara Kelly’s commitment to sustainability begins at the start of her day when she rides her bike to school. Kelly, an environmental study major, ignited her environmental interest during freshman year, which would later contribute to her passion for sustainability. 

She is originally from Thousand Oaks, where topics regarding the environment have always been part of her life. Kelly’s mom works for the city government in Thousand Oaks, where she focuses on water treatment. Kelly has chosen a similar path, where she chose the specific focus of water with her environmental studies major. 

“I enjoy asking the big questions. I wanted to know why some people do not have access to water,” said Kelly. 

But there is more to Kelly than just sustainability; she is a passionate person who likes to stay involved at Sonoma State. 

Kelly is also part of the Ultimate Frisbee team for SSU and this will be her fourth year playing. Team coach, Danielle Kleidon said, “Kelly is a great leader on the field. She plays with her full heart and passion at all times, she always wants to achieve more and always get better.” 

When Kelly first joined the team she was looking for a sense of belonging and teamwork and this team is where she found her solace. 

“It is really fun. It was a new sport to me and when I realized there was a huge community involved I knew I found something I wanted to be part of,” said Kelly. 

Aside from being committed to being a full time student and her Ultimate Frisbee team, Kelly is also a big part of the Adventure Programs on campus. 

Kelly works for the Outdoor Resource Center (ORC). The ORC is the hub of Sonoma States Adventure Programs, located inside the Rec Center, which is the place where students can check out camping equipment, sign up for Outdoor Pursuits and much more.

Besides working for the ORC, Kelly also is the Sustainability Coordinator where she is responsible for working closely with the Recreation Center staff. She overseas and educates the staff in sustainability, talks with companies and organizations who has an emphasis on environment and promotes partnerships with Sonoma State. 

“I am constantly learning. I am not an expert but having this position allows me to think in different perspectives and I get the opportunity to talk to lots of people about how we think and do things that has an impact on the environment,” said Kelly.  

Kelly enjoys her job, and loves being a part of the Rec Center, where she and a group of coordinators do the work that full-time professionals do in companies; building partnerships, spreading the philosophy of Campus Rec and making sure everything runs smoothly. Oh, and Kelly gets to water the plants too. 

Kelly’s next big project is Sustainability Day at Sonoma State, which is coming up soon on Oct. 21. The goal of the event is for students to interact about sustainability and the environment to be engaged both in and outside the classroom. 

There will be panel discussions and Kelly is working hard to spread the word. Paul Draper, SSU’s director of sustainability and director of the Acting Program, has been working hard organizing this event and delegates certain tasks to Kelly. Draper said that Kelly’s main focus is to be in touch with professors and presenters, as well as create a passport that will help students navigate the event and win prizes. 

“She’s got passion for what she is doing. She’s smart, personable and she knows what she wants and is good at getting it. She is really a go-getter,” said  Draper. 

Kelly is a hard-working student who is really driving to make a difference at Sonoma State. Through her major, jobs and extracurricular activities Kelly sustains her passionate personality in all that she does.