Mailyn Greig-Ratz is a senior majoring in food outreach studies and minoring in public health, American Sign Language and photography. She is originally from Münster, Germany, grew up in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and moved to the US in 2010. She has been living in North Carolina for the past seven years.
She chose to attend Appalachian State University for its sustainable initiatives, the small size of the campus and location. After high school, Greig-Ratz attended two community colleges in the triangle area dedicating three years to culinary and sustainable agriculture. She originally planned on continuing her path with sustainable agriculture, but a position at a food bank through Americorps sparked an interest in pursuing an interdisciplinary studies major.
“I combined nutrition, sustainable agriculture and outreach through education and digital platforms. I named this degree food outreach studies,” said Greig-Ratz.
Greig-Ratz was a transfer student looking into getting involved on campus in a meaningful way and found out about a sustainability ambassador position with the Office of Sustainability after attending one of their film series. After applying, she was accepted for the position.
“This is my sixth and final semester as a sustainability ambassador and I have had several responsibilities. In my first semester, I did a lot of tabeling outreach events on campus and controlled recycling contamination at football games. Then mid-spring semester the pandemic hit, and we shifted to more virtual space. During this time I filmed and edited outreach videos, helped create an archival website of work of other sustainability ambassadors and assisted in managing our new Instagram account.
Now, I am part of the communication team in charge of the newsletter and creating an educational post for our Instagram. This position is very flexible in pursuing your interests, and I was able to apply and strengthen knowledge from class into my work,” explained Greig-Ratz.
For other Appalachian students, Greig-Ratz highly recommends self-designing a degree, especially if your current major is not speaking to you and you have an interest in different disciplines.
“I have enjoyed meeting people from other majors and there is so much passion behind every student describing their interdisciplinary studies degree,” said Greig-Ratz.
In her free time, Greig-Ratz loves to paint, go thrifting and spend her time outdoors, whether it be gardening, kayaking or camping. Following graduation, she plans to focus on outreach work regarding making nutritious food affordable and accessible by teaching the community how to grow, cook and preserve food. She hopes to work for the Food Corps or any outdoor nutrition education program at a community garden or a farm.
About the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in four program areas: Appalachian studies; gender, women’s and sexuality studies; global studies; and interdisciplinary studies. The department is also home to Watauga Residential College, an interdisciplinary, alternative general education program. The department promotes creative and imaginative engagement through a cross-disciplinary investigation of complex systems and problems. Learn more at https://interdisciplinary.appstate.edu.
About Sustainability at Appalachian
Appalachian State University’s leadership in sustainability is known nationally. The university’s holistic, three-branched approach considers sustainability economically, environmentally and equitably in relationship to the planet’s co-inhabitants. The university is an active steward of the state’s interconnected financial, cultural and natural resources and challenges students and others to think critically and creatively about sustainability and what it means from the smallest individual action to the most broad-based applications. The university offers both undergraduate and graduate academic degree programs that focus on sustainability. In addition, 100 percent of Appalachian’s academic departments offer at least one sustainability course or course that includes sustainability, and all students graduate from programs that have adopted at least one sustainability learning outcome. Learn more at https://appstate.edu/sustainability.
By Sophia Woodall
April 20, 2022