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Leading an 'Impactful' Life

Leading an 'Impactful' LifeJunior Sarah Ullman strives to make the most out of her life through the practice of social responsibility.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [12.15.08] The term "social responsibility" comes up increasingly often these days, from what we eat and wear, to how we treat others and the environment. The movement is there, and for someone like Sarah Ullman (A'10), it was easy to be swept away.

For a girl in her early 20s, Ullman is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to being socially responsible. The junior's resume boasts a wide spectrum of activities-from environmental activism to hunger awareness-which she says all share a common thread: people.

"Everything I do involves connecting with people," says Ullman, an English major, with minors in drama and communications. "With a background in theater, I feel like stories and narratives are the power that bring us together and enable us accomplish incredible things."

Ullman's story begins in Simsbury, Conn., where she grew up surrounded by the idea of renewable energy-thanks to her father, CEO and chairman of Tidal Electric, who invented a generator that uses the ocean's tides to make electricity. Bringing that mindset with her to Tufts, Ullman began seeing energy-saving opportunities all around her.

As treasurer of Chi Omega, Ullman found herself looking around the sorority's house and wondering about things like weather-stripping the windows and doing an energy audit, and soon enough she began asking questions at the Office of Sustainability, where her enthusiasm gained her an internship.

"A few of the bigger projects I worked on included establishing a compact fluorescent light bulb exchange for Somerville residents through National Student Partnerships, and now I am working on selling renewable energy credits," Ullman says. "Every dollar is doubled and goes into a fund that the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative set up to fund renewable energy projects at Tufts and in Medford and energy efficiency projects for low income communities throughout the state."

Another passion of Ullman's is working to alleviate poverty and hunger, a concern she shared with her grandmother Althea Ullman, wife of former Tufts provost Albert Ullman.

"Hunger issues were always very important to my grandmother," Ullman says. "When she turned 65, she started walking the 20-mile Walk for Hunger, which she did for 23 years after that. Here she was, this 87-year-old woman walking the 20 miles like it was nothing."

After her grandmother passed away, Ullman and her family participated in last year's Walk for Hunger and raised $16,000 in her grandmother's honor. Ullman has continued her grandmother's efforts at Tufts through her work with the Leonard Carmichael Society's Hunger Project, where students prepare and serve meals to the homeless in local soup kitchens and shelters in the Boston area.

Ullman has coupled her activism with scholarship. As one of eight Tufts students to participate in the Talloires Network sessions at Clinton Global Initiative University, she took the opportunity to examine hunger issues.

"I want to help people understand that food security is not just an issue in [the developing world]," Ullman says. "It's an issue right here in Massachusetts."

In addition to these projects, the self-professed "politics geek" created the Campus Voices website for her Tisch Scholars project, to provide students with an outlet to report on the 2008 presidential election. She also runs a socially responsible t-shirt company, with the t-shirts made in Africa and screen printed by the Boston-based nonprofit Artists for Humanity.

When asked how she finds the time for everything and why she chooses to do so much, Ullman-who will be studying in Morocco this spring-says it is "not in [her] DNA to just sit back."

"I like going through life in a way that is impactful, looking at the situations around me," Ullman says. "Not everything I have tried to do has been successful, but it's about trying different things and finding out what works for me and what doesn't, and seeing every failure as a lesson learned."

Profile by Kaitlin Melanson, Web Communications.

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