Earth Day Student Spotlight: Chloe Penna

April 14, 2023
Chloe Penna

Chloe Penna

Chloe Penna, a senior from Tucson, Ariz., is double majoring in English and Professional and Technical Writing and minoring in Environmental Studies and French. An Honors student, Chloe is a member of the Students for Sustainability program and serves as a chair member of the garden committee. Chloe enjoys gardening and spending time in nature during her free time.

As she prepares to graduate this spring, Chloe reflects on why she chose her majors, her favorite part of working for Students for Sustainability, and her advice for future Wildcats.

Q. Why did you decide to attend the University of Arizona and major in English and Professional and Technical Writing?

Tucson is home. I am from here and it worked out best to stay close to family and come to the University of Arizona. I was initially an Environment Studies and French major, but I had a really fantastic experience with my freshman English class that changed my mind. The professor was the best teacher I’d ever had and had a big influence on me. So I ended up becoming an English major and joining the English Honors Program. I’ve always liked reading and literature, and I finally realized that “oh you’re allowed to actually choose what you enjoy studying.”

I also got into sustainability and environmentalism because I had never learned about any of that before I entered college. I loved gardening while I was growing up, but I didn’t really know anything about the environment on a large scale. I took a couple Gen-Eds on the subject and learned about climate change for the first time. That’s how I found my passion for environmentalism. I think it’s one of the most important things that we are able to sustain the earth for the duration of our lives and future generations. But we need to invest in the environment and everyone has to be involved in it. It’s a no-brainer. You can’t not care about the environment.

Q. Why did you join the Students for Sustainability Program and what do you most enjoy about it?

A friend of mine introduced me to Students for Sustainability. We had both been working on the Arizona Youth Climate Strike that was going on in fall 2019. I joined Students for Sustainability as a freshman who knew no one and wanted to make friends, which worked out great because I met lots of people there. It’s a big organization that’s well-established and has a lot of volunteer opportunities. They sort you into subcommittees and you choose your top choices for where to get sorted. My top choice was the garden committee because I like plants and growing my own food, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done.

If you volunteer for a certain amount of time, they give you your own plot to grow things on. As a freshman living on campus, it was really nice to have this little space where I could grow my own food. It was just so magical to plant seeds and then get to eat what I had grown. There was just such a wonderful community there that really helped me as a freshman to break out of my shell and fall in love with the space and what they did.

Q. What are your plans after graduation?

I’ll be getting my master's in English Literature here at the University of Arizona. I’m excited to be taking some more time to really get into the nitty gritty of English literature. I know a lot of the people in the department and they’re really wonderful. I’m just glad to have more time to spend here at the University of Arizona and extend the college experience. COVID kind of stripped us of some of the opportunities of the normal college experience, so I think that I and a lot of other people don’t feel like we’re quite done.

Q. Do you have any advice for new students at UArizona?

Join clubs. If you want to meet people, join clubs and organizations. I particularly would recommend Students for Sustainability. It has great leadership. They’re doing great things and working on really meaningful projects. It’s nice to have something that makes you see people several times a week and it allows you to get to know them. If you’re not putting yourself out there, it’s really hard to meet people.

Also, come take a walk through the garden on campus. It’s really pretty and has flowers and bees. It’s good to take a short walk for your mental health and see green spaces.