DePaul University student Phy Tran was one of 20 college students nationwide chosen to participate in a weeklong retreat for the country’s top rising clean energy leaders sponsored by Focus the Nation.
The students tackled America’s energy roadblocks and challenges in Mt. Hood, Ore., as part of a weeklong ReCharge! Retreat. Selected for their dedication, passion and unique contributions to increasing clean energy, the students embody a diverse yet essential type of leader for solving America’s clean energy challenges.
Focus the Nation is the country’s leading clean energy youth empowerment organization and supports rising leaders in launching careers that accelerate the transition to clean energy in all 50 states. Since 2008, the organization has helped more than 300,000 young people engage in direct dialogue with business and elected leaders about energy solutions.
Tran, 20, was selected from more than 40 applicants because of her “passion for renewable energy and her commitment to making renewable energy accessible to low-income communities,” said Anne Bertucio, business and community relations coordinator for Focus the Nation. “Phy is dedicated to bringing sustainability and clean energy to her local Chicago neighborhood, making a unique and important contribution to the clean energy transition.”
Tran worked with Focus the Nation to bring students’ voices into policies concerning a more sustainable future through her campus organization, the Roosevelt Institute chapter at DePaul. A sophomore majoring in political science and economics, Tran is originally from Da Lat, Vietnam, and moved with her family to Memphis, Tenn., in 2006. She became the youngest member of Public Allies Chicago, an AmeriCorps program focused on leadership and community development. In Chicago, Tran has worked extensively in the Humboldt Park and Uptown neighborhoods and with various neighborhood organizations.
“To instigate change, it is important to embrace people who need these changes the most and exchange our knowledge and approaches with them,” said Tran, who has worked to bring sustainable lifestyles to low-income neighborhoods in Chicago.
“I realize that sustainable living plays an important role in community development,” she said. “What we eat and what we do are the result of many ongoing social problems and have enormous economic and political implications.”
The 20 students selected for this year’s retreat hiked Elliot Glacier, which has lost 60 percent of its snowpack since 1982; toured the Boardman Coal Plant, which is scheduled to close by 2020; visited the Dalles Dam, which has been producing hydropower on the Columbia River since 1957; and visited Biglow Canyon Wind Farm, which powers 125,000 homes in Oregon.
Students were chosen to represent four categories: innovators, technicians, politicos and storytellers. Tran was one of five students to represent politicos, who work to craft and advocate for a transformative clean energy public agenda.
Tran plans to continue helping the community by working with the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network and with students with similar passions, connecting them with the resources and knowledge she acquired on the ReCharge! Retreat.
Tran said her experience at DePaul and in Chicago has been instrumental in fueling her actions. “I attribute the success of everything I do at DePaul to the bittersweet lessons I’ve learned and the generous love that Chicagoans have given me since the first day I came here as a young AmeriCorps volunteer.”
With more than 25,000 students, DePaul University is the largest Catholic university in the United States and the largest private, nonprofit university in the Midwest. The university offers approximately 275 graduate and undergraduate programs of study on three Chicago and three suburban campuses. Founded in 1898, DePaul remains committed to providing a quality education through personal attention to students from a wide range of backgrounds. For more information, visit www.depaul.edu.