Learn how Andrea turned a childhood interest into a career that fosters local initiatives and helps others explore their potential using a local-to-global approach.

Some people find their passion early in life and never let go. Andrea Sahagún ’21, from Querétaro, Mexico, has always been passionate about sustainability. However, it's experience that has taught her how to unleash her creative potential and direct it toward effective problem solving at home.

Andrea remembers when the concept of sustainability was new, and few people knew how to make it work. “I founded a sustainability club at school when I was in first or second grade. It wasn't very popular back then.”

As she got more involved over time, Andrea noticed a pattern. People were recognizing the importance of sustainability, but they were finding it difficult to integrate. For instance, after speaking with the owner of a single-use plastic factory, she learned of the social problems that would arise from shutting down the industry, and the challenges of shifting production to more eco-friendly materials. Everyone, from researchers to government officials, had their own challenges to face. Usually, people would fall into the typical discourse of criticism, guilt, and blame, which would lead to minimal results or even the death of a once-promising project.

In 2017, Andrea came to Franklin University Switzerland to study Literature and International Economics with an Emphasis in Political Economy. During her sophomore year at Franklin, while working at the FUS Center for Sustainable Initiatives, Andrea discovered a way to connect all the players and start solving problems. Professor of Biology and Environmental Science and the Co-Director of the Center, Dr. Brack Hale, introduced her to Gaia di Salvo, a beloved member of the Sustainability Week Switzerland (SWS) core team. Working together, they were able to unite the local universities, businesses, and non-profits to form Sustainability Week Lugano 2019.

The same year, Andrea was invited to lead the movement in Mexico. She started working right away. This October 12-17 in Querétaro, Sustainability Week Mexico will work like a project incubator. Teams of university students will pick from one of five categories: tech innovation, social integration, economic recovery and development, mobility, and agriculture. Student will have access to expert mentoring, networking, and professional tools, along with an easy-to-follow structure to help them develop their projects. The best project in each category will receive a monetary prize and additional coaching to bring it into reality.

When Andrea graduates from Franklin University Switzerland in 2021, she will have new goals. “We need to communicate, we need to know what´s happening in our community, the talent and potential that surround us, the problems that are waiting to be solved, the solutions that have already been created. I love the idea of facilitating connections between people, ideas, and resources – facilitating the type of dialogue that leads to action.”

You might also be interested in the articles Toward a Sustainable Future and Franklin Students will Change the Future.