Groundbreaking Grads Featured at RIT Commencement Ceremony May 20

Diplomas awarded to RIT’s first-ever degree recipients in sustainability and sustainable systems

A. Sue Weisler

Rosa Mitsumasu Heredia, left, is the first master’s degree candidate in sustainable systems and Annick Anctil is the first doctoral candidate in sustainability from RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability. Both students graduate May 20.

Annick Anctil is an RIT pioneer.

Today she becomes Rochester Institute of Technology’s first-ever doctoral-degree recipient in sustainability.

Anctil is accepting her diploma as part of RIT’s 126th commencement celebration May 20. She joins Rosa Mitsumasu Heredia, who is making her own mark on sustainability by becoming RIT’s first master’s degree recipient in sustainable systems.

Upon graduating, both women are looking forward to fulfilling lifelong careers in the blossoming sustainability arena.

Anctil, originally from Québec City, is planning to accept a job offer this week.

“Fortunately, my doctorate in sustainability is suitable for careers in academia or industry,” she says. “I’m able to run meetings with corporate CEOs to explain how sustainability plays a role in making companies environmentally conscious and successful. Or I can teach courses and conduct research at the university level. Sustainability used to be a buzzword, but today it’s so much more than that. Sustainable practices can save an undeterminable amount of money and energy.”

RIT’s sustainability program, launched in 2008 through the Golisano Institute for Sustainability, is designed for students who are driven to become sustainability change agents within organizations worldwide, including industry, government, non-governmental agencies, academic institutions, professional associations, financial and investment communities, the indemnification industry and the legal profession. The Golisano Institute for Sustainability—housed in Louise M. Slaughter Hall— is a multidisciplinary academic unit whose mission is to undertake world-class education and research programs in sustainability with a major focus on sustainable production, sustainable energy, sustainable mobility and ecologically friendly information-technology systems.

“I want to personally congratulate Annick and Rosa, our first graduates of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability,” says Nabil Nasr, RIT assistant provost for academic affairs and director of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability and the Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies. “Their scholarship and dedication over the last several years has been impressive and inspiring. This is an exciting milestone for the institute and RIT, and we are looking forward to the future growth of our programs.”

Anctil, who has a master’s degree in materials science from RIT, wanted to expand her previous research involving solar cells and decided to focus on the environmental impact of these devices.

“My passion is showing how to integrate sustainability into products,” she adds. “Utilizing my technical background allows people to stand up and take notice and realize how important sustainability is to our environment.”

Mitsumasu Heredia, who hails from Lima, Peru, is no stranger to campus. She earned both her undergraduate degree in industrial engineering and her master’s degree in engineering management at RIT. But a love for guiding developing countries through climate change via sustainability fueled her passion to earn a second master’s degree in sustainable systems.

Upon graduating, she will go to work for the Nature Conservancy in Seattle, assisting the Latin American policy group in making recommendations for sustainability practices in that region.

“Being an international student, I can appreciate both the local and global dimensions of sustainability,” says Mitsumasu Heredia. “How do different cultures adapt to changes in the environment? How can I use the tools and concepts that I have acquired in my studies to implement policies that will help these developing countries evaluate and beat challenges? I will be working hard to find the answers to these questions.”

Whichever career path the women choose, one thing is certain. Both are looking to make a lasting impact on the world in which we live.

“It just feels good to graduate,” says Anctil. “I’m really looking forward to moving on to the next phase of my life and providing the world with some much-needed insight about sustainability.”

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