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From East Lansing to Tokyo: MSU Student Takes Sustainability Solutions International

By Brandi Stover

On a warm August day, Honors student Chante Hardaway stepped off a plane into the vibrant metropolis of Tokyo to attend the 2023 International Student Summit (ISS) on Food, Agriculture and Environment. The annual summit encourages students worldwide to present on youth contribution to innovative and sustainable practices in food security and health. 

Hardaway, a second-year student majoring in Environmental Studies and Sustainability in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, presented on how food distribution practices impact university communities and overall food access. Her research, which she completed as a first-year student at Michigan State, examined how the excess food from student organic farms on campus could be used for students experiencing food insecurity. Chante Hardaway wearing a pink jumpsuit and blazer speaking into a microphone

The presentation won the award for best paper from the ISS judges. As one of the younger participants, Hardaway was shocked to earn such an honor. 

“It was amazing to see so many different projects,” Hardaway said. “There was everything from highlighting clubs that people have on their campuses, different initiatives they’ve done as a school, and even individual research, and it was incredible to see the wide range.” 

Each student presented for 12 minutes on various topics while their peers observed and provided feedback, giving insight into how schools around the world are taking on the challenges associated with sustainability. 

Hardaway said her favorite part of the summit was listening to other participants speak about their shared passion to change the world.  

“My biggest takeaway was seeing that as a college student, we can make changes for our environment and for our future,” Hardaway said.  

“A lot of times, I think you can get into that, ‘Oh I’m just a student’ or ‘What can I really do?’ mindset because climate change and environmental issues are such big topics, and the fact that they aren’t going to be solved by one simple solution can be daunting,” she continued. Chante Hardaway wearing a teal dress presenting her research

 “But seeing all these students making small changes is really impactful,” Hardaway said, “and it gives me a sense of hope for our generation and how we are doing a lot for the environment and that we do care about protecting our earth.” 

She offered the following advice for those looking to adopt more sustainable practices and achieve big goals in the future:  

“Don’t think that anything you’re doing is ever too small – in both sustainable practices and professional experiences,” Hardaway said. “Every small thing builds momentum into something bigger, and we are not going to change issues within our world overnight, so never think that what you are doing is too small or not impactful enough, because I promise it is.”  

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