Studying to Save the World: The Passion of Environmental Studies

College is stressful as it is, but is it more stressful when you carry the weight of the future of the world on your back? This is the reality of students studying Environmental Studies, where climate change is the most prominent issue that students focus on. With the weight of the world’s future on their shoulders, it’s hard to imagine what a day in the life of an Environmental Studies student is like. Although I am an Environmental Studies major, I also study Philosophy/Pre-Law, so getting the perspective of another Environmental Studies major is always helpful in fully understanding how other students spend their time on campus.

            I interviewed Maria Holloway-Racine, a second year Environmental Studies major at Millikin University, about her day and how she feels about majoring in Environmental Studies. Maria also majors in acting, so similarly to me, Maria has a full agenda. Maria gets up at 8 am to shower and get dressed, then goes to work in the costume shop in the School of Theatre and Dance, where she hand sews different costumes for the department.

Maria hand sewing a costume for the Theater Department.

Today, she stopped at Einstein’s to grab a quick egg and cheese bagel before going to the University Commons to work on homework for Global Environmentalism class, as well as attend a Zoom class in one of the University Commons Zoom rooms. Afterwards, she squeezed in time for a nap before dinner, then went right back to working on homework until it was time for bed. Maria’s schedule is similar to mine in the way that there is little downtime in our daily schedules. Although her days are busy, Maria contends that her major is not only morally fulfilling, but enjoyable as well.

Maria’s lunch date with rice and her studies.

            With the opportunity I was presented with to interview Maria, I first asked her what her favorite part about being an Environmental Studies major was. She replied, “I like studying Environmental Studies because it gives me an opportunity to think about the planet on a regular basis. I believe that our environment is the most sacred thing we have, including the biodiversity and ecological landscape. It is our job to protect that, and I feel like I am doing my duty by learning about our earth and having compassion for it.” Maria’s passion for the environment truly shines through the way that she views her courses. When asked what her favorite courses were that she’s taken, Maria said “Some of my favorite classes are my environmental classes (because I absolutely love professor O’Conner) and I often really resonate with my professors and the lessons we learn.” Professors are a large part of student success at Millikin University, and Professor O’Conner is the source of motivation for students studying Environmental Studies, or rather, advisees.

Maria hard at work late at night, with some help from a friend.

            I also had the opportunity to interview Professor O’Conner, in which she elaborated on how Environmental Studies majors feel about their studies. When asked about how her advisees feel about their general work load, she replied “No one’s really complained about…There are one or two classes that are challenging but I think on a daily basis I find that the majority of Environmental Studies majors are successful.” To build off of that response, I asked her what she thinks sets apart Environmental Studies majors from other majors on campus, to which O’Conner replied: “To me, it’s their passion for helping the planet, obviously. But just the empathy of it… Being an Environmental Studies major is looking at how you can help not only the planet, but realizing that everything is connected, and once you help the planet, you’re also helping socially, economically, politically, all of those things are combined, so you really have to be a student that’s able to think outside the box and think about problems and solutions from a multitude of ways.” Professor O’Conner is beloved by all of her students and continues to be a “cheerleader” for her advisees, as Maria describes it.

            With the imminent threat of climate change accelerating, Environmental Studies students feel that they have a bigger picture to focus on than other common majors. Although studies can become overwhelming, the passion, drive, and support from professors that Environmental Studies students experience make the work all that more rewarding. When it comes to studying the environment, the best advice I have is this: always keep a positive mindset, and remember that with hard work comes great reward, not only for you, but for everyone else that is impacted by the work you do.

Hannah Prochnow is a sophomore double major in Environmental Studies and Philosophy/Pre-Law at Millikin University. Prochnow currently works as an office assistant in the Honors Office for the Honors Program at Millikin, where she has gained experience working with school faculty and spent time familiarizing herself with the inner workings of campus business. In her free time, Prochnow spends time reading classic novelists, as well as spending time outdoors when the weather permits and indulging in video games.

Hannah Prochnow

Adult Learning Program

Hello my name is Kari Quintenz, I am a Senior in the Flex Learning Program and I am majoring in Organizational Leadership. The student that I interviewed is also a senior and major is also Organizational Leadership and his name is Mike. We both are in the same co-hort program that we look to be graduating in December, 2021.

Mike, works at Caterpiller working 40-60 hours a week, depending on the work load of the week or month. He gets to work between 4am-6am and gets off at 3pm. On slow periods, he is able to get some reading in for any upcoming papers that are due. Flex Adult Learning Program, time management is essential, by making an appointment for yourself to work on homework, it allows him to get the work done on time. He loves to bowl, play softball and he also plays tennis. Depending on the season, he could be doing all 3 at the same time, but for the most part, he is pretty much just doing 2. He reminded me again that Time Management skills necessary to be successful in this program or you could get lost.

The professor that I interviewed was Melinda Rueter, Adjunct Professor in the Communication Dept. The class that we had with her was Organizational Communication and Conflict, OL343.

The best advice that Melinda offered was to always have time Management on your side. Time is very important especially in the Flex Learning Program because you have to make time for both yourself because have to work on your homework and also if you have a family you have to make time for them as well.

I have a family and there are times that I have stayed up late after my husband and kids have gone to bed to work on my homework just because that is when my house is quiet. Melinda started a Facebook page for our OL-343 class and she would check in to see how we all were doing and we all would send in GIFs with how we were feeling especially when we all had loads of homework.

Tabor Talk: A Day In The Life


Hi guys, I am Lex Tennison, a junior business management major, minoring in marketing. I am a part of the Millikin Softball team. I got the chance to interview a few people I have gotten to grow very close to over the past few years through the Tabor School of Business. First we are going to hear from a very good friend of mine, Aly, who I have completed multiple classes with. I thought she would be a great candidate to talk about a day in her life because she is very hard working, has a busy schedule but knows how to manage it, and is very passionate about what she does.

Aly is a senior business management major with a minor in finance. She is a member of the Millikin University Women’s Softball team and recently joined the Millikin Women’s Basketball team as well. She chose Millikin, because the first time she stepped on campus she had this feeling that she was going to call this place home for the next four years. “The environment was unmatched, the professors were incredible, and the student body was very welcoming. I have a deep passion for softball and knowing that I would be able to play a sport while receiving a great education was a big factor for me as well.” Today Aly is taking twenty-one credits while playing two sports…. to say she is busy would be an understatement. “I am so thankful for the support from my friends, coaches, and professors because without them I would be extremely overwhelmed. When I wake up, I usually attend class over zoom. Depending on how much time I have I usually head to the trainers to receive treatment before practice and then I go to basketball practice for two hours, and then softball practice for another two hours. After that, I come home and do homework the rest of the night. It can be stressful at times but I would not have it any other way.” If she could give one piece of advice for anybody coming to Millikin it would be to not be afraid to be uncomfortable and try new things. There are so many people out there that are rooting for you and on your side that it all makes it worth it in the end.

The next individual I got the chance to speak with is Mark Munoz. He is my academic advisor and I have had him as a professor for multiple classes in Tabor. He is an outstanding mentor, let alone an incredible human and I am blessed to call him a friend.

“The management field is exciting yet challenging. We’re seeing new career types emerge. But, we’re also seeing the reconfiguration of how management is practiced. For example, we’re seeing some organizations open up new management roles relating to technology like artificial intelligence (ie, AI Manager or Head of AI).” Munoz mentioned how there weren’t such positions in the past and that companies are also reinventing their organization structures to respond to changes in technology, markets, competition and consumer expectations. “On top of top, the work culture has also changed as a result of the pandemic. We’re seeing remote work gaining acceptance globally. Mark said that with all these changes taking place, management practitioners need to constantly adapt and reinvent themselves and their organizations to keep up. “Overall, it’s all exciting but also challenging in many levels.”


A day in the life of an OL student and Instructor

My name is Mike Wilkin. I am a senior in the Tabor School of Business, majoring in Organizational Leadership.

I interviewed a fellow Organizational Leadership student as well as an instructor in the Organizational Leadership program, asking about a typical day in the life of each of them. The fellow student and I have a very similar set up. The instructor is very careful with her day, allowing herself to be more available to the students.

The first person I interviewed is a fellow Flex Learning Program student, names Ashley Galloway. Ashley and I are friends outside of school and play co-ed softball together. Ashley begins her weekdays around 0600, works anywhere from 10-12 hours each day and is on call 24 hours per day and 7 days per week as a Safety Specialist for a facility with 600+ colleagues. She can guarantee a minimum of 5 hours each weekend, but has some weekends that have added an additional 24 hours to the week.

When Ashley gets home, she sits down for about 2-4 hours each night to work on homework. This semester, she is registered for 18 credit hours, so each minute counts. She has 1 class that meets on Zoom on Thursday nights from 1800-2000, but usually gets out a little early.

Ashley has a 15 year old son at home who lives with Autism. He reads at approximately a 3rd grade level, so the challenges and frustration of the remote learning has been at times almost too much. She helps him with his 10th grade homework, which can be difficult while doing her own homework. The weekends have some time built in to get him caught up on his homework.

Along with her own son, her girlfriend has 3 kids as well. One of them goes to St. Theresa, so she has been face to face all year, thankfully. Ashley helps carpool these kids to and from their extra-curricular activities and assisting with 2 of them obtaining their driving permits, which will require additional time.

The remaining time on Sundays are spent finishing her homework for the week and meal prepping for the upcoming work week.

The advice Ashley gives for anyone coming in to the Organizational Leadership program is to “stay structured”. Being a part of the adult Flex Learning Program, she has had to remain disciplined as to not get overwhelmed. She treats the program as part of her daily schedule, meaning she sets aside time each day for her schooling.

She also recommends keeping close track of your graduation requirements. She has had some added stress due to requirement changes over the last year.

She has one final word of advice, “if you start to feel overwhelmed, tell yourself that it is temporary”. Instead of thinking in terms of a semester, “I looked at it in 8 week segments”. She looks at the short term deadlines to help stay focused for a little longer. “It will be over before you know it”.

I then interviewed Melinda Rueter, Adjunct Faculty in the Communications Department. She was my instructor for Organization Communication and Conflict, or OL 343.

Melinda states that every instructor breaks down the time commitments required for in class and out of class work. “This is where structure is important”, she says. Creating that balance between in and out of class can be challenging. She thinks there is an added stress and lack of balance due to the pandemic. In this major, many of the assignments are papers. Those take a “significant amount of time to grade”. Since all of the papers are electronic, there is an added stress on the eyes of the instructor while reading and grading them.

The best advice that Melinda offers is “to find a structure that works, a way to focus”. Have a good support system with both family and classmates. Melinda sys that this major lends itself to collaboration and supporting each other. She says that it is important to find that balance with the family and that everyone should be on the same page in order for things to properly balance.

Expectation of Virtual Study Abroad 2021

My full name is Nhung Thi Hong Tran (Emmy). I am from Vietnam and have been in the United States for more than four years. I am senior and majoring in International Business at Millikin University. I am interested in trading goods and services between country to country, continent to continent. Therefore, I decided to study this major. International Business Major gives me the chance to study abroad for one or two semesters, so I can have more experiences of living abroad and adapt to new cultures and understand their economies. That is also one of my dreams for my career path.

Unfortunately, during COVID-19, the travel restriction is affecting many students including me who wanted to study abroad, so the only way to help them achieve our goal is virtually to study abroad. I was planning to study in Europe because I believed the economy of Europe is very high standard. However, European schools do not open any courses for virtual study with Millikin University in this spring semester.  My next direction is Chile. I have never studied virtual study abroad before, I feel excited for two courses at Finis Terrae University, Chile. This is a great  option for me because the time zone of Decatur, Illinois is behind Santiago, Chile just three hours. That can help me adjust or balance my schedule of studying in both schools. 

Expectation for virtual study abroad experience

I expect three things for my virtual studying in Chile: understanding the courses, developing intercultural skills and having some time to exchange and learn more about the culture of Chileans or other international students. Virtual study abroad is a new option for global academics and it is via the internet. It helps me save a lot of money from staying abroad and also saves me time. I appreciate it, but I am not sure how it works and I cannot experience the reality of Chile. Business styles of each country are different from another even though they are next to each other such as the United States and Mexico. It is not likely that the Chilean economy will be the same as the U.S. Moreover, I have never taken any class in this school or in Chile. I am concerned if there are any troubles while the Chilean professors are presenting and how their institutions are. 

A description of Universidad Finis Terrae

Universidad Finis Terrae or Finis Terrae University (UFT) is one of Millikin University Partnership in Chile. The school is located in Santiago, Chile. It was established in 1981 and owned by the Anahuac University Network. The maxim of UFT is “Vince in Bono Balum” means “Overcoming Evil with Good”. There are 7,909 students, 9 faculties and 476 academic staff in total. UFT has a good faith in Catholic Religion as known as a Cathalic School. There are a lot of activities related to Catholicism at UFT. Their purpose is willing to encourage students in moral, professional technique and high knowledge in their career. UFT put the value of students and society above everything else. 

A Bit About Me

My name is Tyler Madding. I am twenty-nine years old. I was born and raised in Decatur, IL. I have three sisters and six brothers. I have three children. Their names are Tynslei who is five, Tyia who is two, and Tyler, Jr who was born on Thanksgiving last year. My mom lives here in Decatur and my dad lives in Californina. I go visit there at least once a year and plan to move there after I graduate from Millikin. I am a business owner for a lawn care service called CoTyns. I am also a landlord and own five properties. COVID-19 has really impacted my business. I also have a home improvement company for various household tasks such as flooring, windows, siding, plumbing, drywall, etc. This business was not hit as hard as people who are sitting home tend to want to remodel to pass the time. I enjoy being able to make my own schedule and spend more time with my kids at home.

My major is International Business. I want to be able to do business with other countries to expand the market of my business and invention ideas. I previously studied at Richland Community College. I studied welding at Richland and graduated in 2014. I worked for a year, had a baby, then went back to school. This time, at Richland, I studied business management and graduated in 2018, right before having another baby. While attending Richland, I also achieved a certificate for Entrepreneur. I began attending Millikin University in Spring of 2019. I am expected to complete my courses in the summer 2021. I then want to move to California and obtain my masters degree in Economics.

Some expectations that I had before we had to go virtual was meeting lots of new people and connections. I was expecting to have a close experience with the people so I can learn Spanish. I was looking forward to bringing my family with me so they could have the experience as well. I expected to work hard but still have time to explore the University and the area in which I would be living and studying. Now that we are virtual, I am expecting to still learn the culture but in a less personal way. Instead of experiencing it, I would now be learning through short class times and internet searches. I still expect to meet some great people although not as many since we are split into groups and its hard to communicate with a lot of people on an online platform. There will still be lots to learn and I look forward to it.

I am studying at Universidad Finis Terrae. It is located in the capital of Chile, which is a city called Santiago. Like Millikin, it is a private university. It is a part of the Anahuac University Network which is a group of universities led by the Legion of Christ. It is hard to find much information on the University itself because all of their pages are in Spanish.

Angela’s Belgian & Chilean Exchange

My name is Angela Arnold and I am a junior International Business major here at Millikin. Due to the pandemic, I have spent this academic year at home taking virtual courses. This was the year that I was supposed to study abroad but Millikin sadly had to prohibit in-person travel. Still wanting to make the most out of my junior year, I enrolled myself as an exchange student at the Universidad de los Andes (UANDES) last semester, and this semester I have also signed up for classes with two other partner universities. In February, I will begin classes with Artevelde University of Applied Sciences in Ghent, Belgium and then in March classes will start at Universidad Finis Terrae (UFT) in Santiago, Chile. 

I am truly looking forward to my virtual study abroad experience this semester. Last semester, I went in completely blind as I had no idea of what to expect. Things did not start out that well because three of my four classes were cancelled. My one remaining class, Latin American Business & Development, turned out to be one of the most pivotal classes of my higher education experience thus far. I have never had a teacher quite like Professor Nagel, and he made me realize the vast differences between higher education in America compared to the rest of the world. Something that I really valued and took away from the class was the attitude towards higher education and what it means to be a student. I am excited to compare these attitudes and values with my upcoming experience in the Belgian higher education system. 

The first school that I will be attending is Artevelde University in Belgium. It is located in Ghent, which is the largest student city in all of Belgium. It is also one of the largest universities in Flanders, and the city plans to be carbon neutral by the year 2050. Originally, Artevelde was never on my list of possible study abroad universities because I was determined to study abroad in France since I am a French minor. But last semester I realized that none of our partner institutes in France were promoting a virtual exchange program, so I knew that I needed to look elsewhere. A representative from Artevelde came to a virtual study abroad panel last semester and I was very impressed by their program. I initiated contact several months later enquiring into the exchange process, and everything ended up working out perfectly! I will be taking People Management and European Business with them, and I’ve also joined in on the virtual meetings for the Artevelde International Club! I’m interested in seeing how this experience compares to the Chilean universities. 

I’ve also enrolled at UFT in Chile, and I am interested to see the differences and similarities of their university compared to UANDES. UFT is a private religious university that has over 9,000 students. In terms of my courses, I am taking a Current Affairs course along with a Beginning Spanish language class. I’ve been trying to take a Spanish class for years now but it has never worked out in my schedule, and now I finally get to take one! Even though this semester definitely is not what I expected or hoped for, I am glad these universities are being so accommodating and considerate of international students who are not allowed to travel in-person for the semester. I am excited to see how this semester goes!

Erik Labroo’s Introduction

About Myself: My name is Erik Labroo, and this is my final semester here at Millikin. I am originally from Quincy, Illinois and came to Millikin in 2017 after I graduated high school. When I am not busy with school, I like to spend most of my free time listening or playing music with my friends. My other hobbies include reading, cooking, and hiking. I am also very active in Millikin’s Greek Life. I am a proud member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Illinois Delta. I have held several positions within the chapter and have made many lifelong friends along the way. I currently serve as the House Manager. I also have served on the Executive Board for Interfraternity Council as the Vice President of Public Relations. These have both allowed me to volunteer my time in the community to help others, which is one of the many reasons that I joined Greek Life here at Millikin.

About My Major: I am pursuing a degree in international business with a minor in political science. I chose international business because I have always enjoyed meeting people from other cultures. I grew up in a diverse household, so I figured it was only natural to want a career with diversity as its key element. I added my minor because politics from around the world have always been interesting to me. My goal is to one day work for a business that operates on an international level. I have recently accepted a position in Human Resources that I hope leads to a successful career.

Virtual Study Abroad: Like most, COVID-19 completely changed my plans for studying abroad. Nonetheless, I am very excited to be immersed into a different environment while being able to remain at home. Yes, I would have preferred to travel and experience another country with my own senses, but I believe that it is important to keep an open mind so that I do not miss any valuable experiences in the online setting. I have already been placed in a WhatsApp group chat with the other international students and it is very interesting to see the interactions that take place in a semi-formal environment. I am also excited to see how everyone interacts in a classroom setting. It is also nice to be exposed to students who are from all over the world, and not just the same country as the university.

Universidad Finis Terrae: This semester I will be taking six credits at Universidad Finis Terrae which is in Santiago, Chile. The university began in March 1988 and has made a prominent name for itself as one of Chile’s private universities. At the university, there are 26 different undergraduate programs, ranging from subjects such as art, humanities, engineering, health, and education. Something that I found interesting about UFT is the school’s slogan. The slogan is “Vince in bono malum” which translates to “defeat evil with good”. This stems from the institutions catholic roots, but its values and mission statement can be applied to people of any faith.