Alumna Practices Sustainability at Home and Abroad

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“The challenging thing about sustainability is that it’s challenging,” shared Northwood alumna Vanessa Seguin during her presentation on the Texas Campus.  After years of experience involving traveling, environmental stewardship, and training in social responsibility, she can attest to both the rewards and obstacles this field faces. Last fall, Vanessa shared her Northwood experience and life after college with Northwood students in Cedar Hill, TX. Originally from Canada, Vanessa received a soccer scholarship from Northwood University’s Michigan Campus and majored in Entertainment, Sport & Promotion Management. She shared that as an athlete, she largely focused on her sport and was not completely sure of what she wanted to do after college. Upon her graduation in 2003, Vanessa moved to Dallas to work in the Sales and Catering Department at Omni Hotels & Resorts. Two years later, she had the opportunity to travel to Asia and then moved to Vietnam, where she was involved with the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), Fauna & Flora, and AnimalsAsia.

This international journey sparked something in Vanessa, and she developed an interest in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). She then went on to earn her Master’s degree in Environmental Sustainability from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada. While engaged in her studies, Vanessa gained valuable experience and knowledge from various projects and internship opportunities. These included research papers over the Extraction of Athabasca Oil Sands, CSR Policies in the Hotel Industry, as well as the development of a proposal for the construction of an Eco Village. Her internship with Landmark Group Builders, as a sustainability specialist led her to help develop a sustainable procurement plan, employee engagement and education programs, as well as green marketing initiatives for external customers.

Vanessa then moved back to Dallas and returned to the Omni Hotels & Resorts at their new downtown Dallas location, which is a LEED certified building. This return also reconnected Vanessa to her alma mater through the Texas Campus. The newly established DeVos Alumni Society graciously welcomed her as the Social Media Chair and she truly enjoyed the opportunity to present on campus to current students, “I had a fantastic time and it really felt great to share my knowledge and to see other people become interested in the work I’ve done and the things I’ve accomplished. It’s really rewarding. I sincerely hope that there will be other opportunities to be involved with Northwood and to speak to more students about my experiences.”

Professors teaching finance, entrepreneurship, and hospitality all brought their classes to the presentation, which was well received by the students. Several students asked questions and were genuinely interested in how big establishments like the Omni operate in a sustainable fashion. Vanessa shared such practices as recyclable tap water for vegetation watering and key-powered room electricity as a few things that the Omni is doing to stay green. “You have to show people that sustainable living can be easy and convenient so that it becomes a habit. At the Omni, they’re not given much choice to not be sustainable while staying with us.”    - Natasha Elder