Patrick Teese (C ‘20) is no stranger to Penn’s green community. He's a member of Epsilon Eta, Beekeeping Club, Urban Studies Undergraduate Advisory Board, and an intern for Penn Sustainability.
Penn first attracted Patrick because of its highly regarded linguistics program. But after taking a seminar in the department, Patrick decided that although he found linguistics fascinating, it wasn’t something that he could see himself doing as a career. After sampling a number of courses in different disciplines, he stumbled upon urban studies.
“I’m still not entirely sure how that happened, but I really enjoy it and it’s a good way for me to reconcile a lot of interests that I didn’t realize I had and combine them all into one major and one course of study,” says Patrick.
The course Cities and Sustainability (URBS–417), taught by Ariel Ben–Amos, sparked Patrick’s interest in environmentalism. “It’s basically a look at the practical realization of sustainability goals,” he says. “I was hooked and I wanted to learn more.”
Patrick discovered Epsilon Eta—Ep Eta for short—when his friends brought him along to some events in the fall of his sophomore year. Ep Eta is Penn’s co–ed environmental fraternity. “Ep Eta is a group of people across years from a lot of different places doing a lot of different things, and it's been nice to be exposed to different ideas and different experiences like that,” says Patrick.
Although he still remains best friends with his freshman year hallmates, Patrick says he was looking to go beyond the walls of his dorm, and look for new communities to join on campus.“I was able to do that when I sort of happened upon Ep Eta,” he says.
Patrick now serves as Co–President of Ep Eta alongside Sophia Landress (C ‘21). “It’s cool to be involved in the green community at Penn, especially because it’s growing very rapidly and because there’s a lot of cool things going on right now and a lot of impressive initiatives,” he says.
Within Penn’s interconnected green community it's common to belong to multiple Student Sustainability Association at Penn (SSAP) groups. “Being a leader in a group is exciting,” explains Patrick. “But sometimes it also feels like I'm not a leader in a group, because it's a collaborative environment within Ep Eta and within the green community.”
Patrick also serves as the unofficial “hive manager” for Beekeeping Club and interns with Penn Sustainability. One of the major projects he worked on as an intern was “Move–In Green” which made sure freshmen disposed of their waste properly on move–in day. He's currently working on an infographic to explain the waste system and waste streams at Penn, so students can find it in a singular document that's easy to understand.
For students looking to get involved with environmentalism or sustainability at Penn, Patrick suggests that people seek out the different groups that make up SSAP, and see what appeals to them most.
He thinks that individual action is important in order to to learn about environmental issues and the way that daily actions make an impact. However, he adds that, “ to solve a lot of the issues that are facing us as a community, be that locally on campus or globally, it’s really important to address them on a much larger level.”
As fall semester comes to a close and graduation draws nearer, Patrick isn’t quite sure what he wants to do next, but says he’s interested in getting a job related to sustainability. “I think I’d like to combine [sustainability] with my interests in design and the built environment,” he says. “I’m not exactly sure what that will look like but, ultimately, I would like to do something involved with urban design through architecture, landscape architecture, or city planning.”