|Eco-Warrior Murray Myers Graduates to Pursue Green|
University of St. Thomas students better not even think of throwing an aluminum can or plastic bottle in the garbage, or they may have to answer to Murray Myers. Among students, Myers is affectionately known as the campus “eco-warrior” and “environmental champion,” and has spent the better part of his seven years at UST unifying the campus around environmental causes.
Myers, an environmental studies and political science dual major, is among the 316 undergraduates and 427 graduate students to graduate on Saturday, May 16 at Reliant Arena.
Through his tireless efforts to raise awareness about the importance of campus recycling, the University has garnered accolades as the top recycling university in Texas in the RecycleMania competition in 2008 and 2009. RecycleMania is a contest among more than 500 college and university recycling programs nationwide. Myers was responsible for much of the collection and contest tabulation of campus recycled materials.
To further facilitate campus recycling, he worked with the Student Government Association to invest in campus recycling bins and secured a grant from the Coca-Cola National Recycling Grant for 12 Coke bottle shaped recycling bins.
“Environmentalism really starts with recycling, and it’s one of the easiest things we can do,” Myers said. “Sometimes you just have to educate people and make the recycling so easy that it becomes second nature. It’s been a long and slow process, but in the last six months I have noticed almost everyone in Guinan Residence Hall recycles and tries to reuse things to prevent wasteful habits.”
Myers also spearheaded the University’s project to become carbon neutral, now known as USTrees. Working with Howard Rose, assistant vice president of facilities operations, who supplied the necessary data, Myers calculated that USTrees will need to plant about 25,000 trees to compensate for the University’s current energy use. To meet that planting goal, Myers was instrumental helping the University obtain donations of about 6,000 trees from the Apache Corporation. In addition, he has participated in and led numerous tree planting events.
Dr. Maury Harris, associate professor of environmental science and studies, worked closely with Myers for more than five years, serving as a faculty mentor.
“Murray is a leader on campus and is a student who has never satisfied with definitions and textbook learning,” Harris said. “He always strives to put what he learned into action, and makes what we teach in the classroom a reality.”
Enrolling at the University in fall 2002, Myers tried his hand at a couple different majors before finding the right fit with environmental studies and political science, thus prolonging his academic career.
“If I had graduated in just four years, my vision of what I want to do in life probably would not be as clear,” he said. “It wasn’t until I was 21 or 22 that I matured and I was truly able to focus on environmental issues, instead of ignoring them or being indifferent toward them. Being educated about the environment is an awakening. I compare myself to five or six years ago, and I realize that my eyes are now open. It’s something you can’t fully put into words and you can’t put a value on it.
“Students should realize that even though the lengthy essays and exams come to an end when you graduate your education shouldn't,” Myers said. “The mind shouldn't be allowed to just stagnate, one's education should still be pursued. The world's problems that our generation will struggle with for the next century can only be solved by smart people that care enough to make a difference.”
After graduation, Myers plans to take a year off before applying for graduate programs in city and regional planning or sustainable development at Tufts University, University. Illinois Champaign-Urbana or the University of California Berkeley. His future career goals include working in the field of sustainable development and environmental conservation in developing countries.
In the meantime, he has applied for summer resident internships at the Texas Nature Project. Myers also has longterm intentions to write a young adult novel about a boy and his pet rat who set out on an adventure to save an endangered species. Myers and a group of communications graduates from the University of North Texas hope to begin filming a series of advice segments about “genuinely going green one step at a time,” to be broadcast on YouTube.