It wasn’t surprising when Holly Thompson, a sophomore in the School of Architecture and Planning, decided to major in environmental studies. Love of nature runs in her family. She grew up on a lake in New Jersey, and has enjoyed going to a summer camp close to her home for years, first as a camper and then as a counselor.

“My interest in the environment started off with a love of camp,” Thompson said. “I love spending time outdoors, and I’ve been swimming in the lake since I was really young. Another of my inspirations is my grandfather — he’s a lawyer who deals with a lot of environmental issues, protecting farmland and so on.”

Thoughts of her grandfather weren’t far from her mind as Thompson worked on a recent paper for her Law and Politics class (Politics 220). She was writing about the need to strengthen environmental laws, given their capacity to affect so many people. 

Her academic and personal interests overlap in her extracurricular pursuits. As president of the University’s Environmental Club, she has been working with leaders from other student groups to help them shrink their environmental footprint. 

In addition, she has been working as an intern with Catholic Climate Covenant, a nonprofit founded in 2006 in response to Catholic social teaching on ecology. 

“The organization reaches out to parishes and Catholic colleges, helping them start environmental clubs on their own and to plan events,” Thompson said. “One of the pillars of Catholic social teaching is care for creation.” 

Thompson landed the internship after learning about the group from Associate Professor Patricia Andrasik, who heads sustainability outreach for the School of Architecture and Planning. 

In the future, Thompson would like to intern in other settings in order to sample some of the career paths open to her. She has her eye on an internship opportunity with the District of Columbia.

“All I know for sure is that I want to do climate advocacy,” she said. “After working with a nonprofit, I want to see what working with the government is like.”

Greg Varner, Senior Writer and Editor. He can be reached at