Catching the Environmental Wave: Communications Student Camilla Palermo

Camilla is an Italian-American Communications senior at JCU. She was raised in Rome, where her family moved from the United States when she was 5 years old. Camilla is a representative at large of Grassroots, JCU’s environmental club.

Student Camilla Palermo

Student Camilla Palermo

What brought you to JCU?
I was looking for an international experience, and although I was initially planning on going abroad, I found that JCU offered what I was looking for. Coming here was probably way more of an intercultural experience than I expected. We are quite a unique group of people, coming from all over the world. Not all universities can boast such a beautifully diverse student body.

You are a representative of the Grassroots club. Can you tell us more about your experience?
I’ve been quite active in the Grassroots club for about three semesters, but it was only recently that I became a board member. I found that the club was complementary to the environmental interests that I already had outside of the University, so it was a good fit. There are so many things that can be done in a small community like ours. We are trying to mold everything we do in a community-building experience, as well as an educational one, both for us and for who is interested in our initiatives. We are discussing a lot of very pressing issues, and we are trying to educate others and ourselves on how to be “sustainable citizens”, as we now like to call it.

The Grassroots club recently distributed aluminum water bottles to the JCU community. How did this initiative come about?
In 2015 some Grassroots members came up with the idea of a plastic-free JCU. In the following years, water bottles had been purchased by Grassroots and John Cabot University, but never to such an extent! I believe the administration, as well as the student body, are understanding the urgency of the problem of climate change and pollution, and also that our generation is a bit different: we are demanding change, and we are demanding it right now.

What’s the next step that JCU should take in order to become a more environmentally friendly community?
There are many things that could be done. I think we must catch the environmental wave in all its mightiness now that it is here. First of all, we could start by signing a declaration for Climate Emergency, which is something that around 7000 Universities around the world have already done. This is a discussion that is currently going on between Giacomo Di Capua, the President of Grassroots and the University Administration. We should definitely decrease the amount of meat offered in the cafeteria with initiatives such as Meatless Mondays. I know this is an inconvenient truth for many of us, but our meat consumption habit is harmful to the environment. We also need to find a solution to the issue of food waste, which our cafeteria faces every day. We students need to understand this, and we can do so much to solve the problem.

What’s the best thing about studying Communications for someone who’s passionate about sustainability and the environment?
But the bottom line is this: there are so many stories to be told. A degree in Communications will help you better understand the world around you, as well as the forces that shape our perception of reality. We can do a lot with just that type of knowledge. Like fighting back climate change deniers. If we apply this knowledge by telling stories or creating new ones, then we’re going to hit the jackpot.

What are your plans for the future?
I am exploring various possibilities. However, I am pretty sure that I will continue to fight for the environment, and definitely continue my education.

What is your advice to other students who are considering JCU?
Give it a try, it is a pretty unique student environment. I don’t think you will regret it. Being here changed my life for the better in so many ways that I would need another interview to list them all!