Learning to Lead and Taking Action: Olivia Andoe ’17

The Westminster Fund fuels the heart of Westminster, making it possible for students like Olivia Andoe ’17 (above) to learn leadership and meaningful action. Through Mission: Westminster Fund, April 10-24, 2016, please make a gift to support the Westminster Fund, Andoe, and other students like her.

Olivia Andoe ’17 isn’t just an advocate for change — she’s the person on the ground, brainstorming ideas and actively working to make change happen. A junior environmental science and biology major, Andoe had a strong interest in environmental conservation long before she came to Westminster. But it was during her visit to the Fulton campus as a prospective student that she got a clear picture of the types of opportunities the College could provide her where she could explore her passions.

“I met someone who was a student at the time who introduced me to EcoHouse, as well as some of the environmental studies programs,” the Tulsa, Oklahoma, native says of her visit to campus during Scholarship Week. “I was really fascinated by all of these student groups and the types of projects they were able to create, like the BikeShare program and making the dining hall tray-less. I decided right then that I wanted to make sure I could earn enough scholarships to go there.”

Since setting foot on campus as a freshman in the fall of 2013, Andoe has embodied Westminster’s goal of educating leaders who are ready to change the world. In addition to her studies, she’s been involved with EcoHouse, an environmentally friendly living facility that promotes sustainable living and educates the Westminster community about environmental issues; Habitat for Humanity; the Take-A-Friend-Home program, through which she traveled to Guatemala as part of the innovative global outreach and cultural immersion program; Westminster Paleontology Expedition, a one-of-a-kind field opportunity to find and excavate fossils in Nebraska and South Dakota, led by Dr. David Schmidt; ECoS, a student organization open to anyone on campus that’s dedicated to promoting awareness of environmental issues; and the Green Council, an on-campus group comprised of faculty leaders and student representatives that promotes sustainability on campus.

“Westminster has definitely had a huge impact on my life in offering me a place to learn and grow and places to lead outside the classroom that lead to actual change,” Andoe says.

Last year, as EcoHouse president and through her work with the Green Council, Andoe helped lead the charge to revive the Westminster Efficiency Fund, a $15-per-student-per-semester fee that goes toward funding sustainable projects.

“Getting that [the Efficiency Fund] passed will impact the college for a long time,” Andoe says. “We’re accomplishing things that make a very real difference.”

Since passing last year, the Efficiency Fund has gone toward installing new energy-efficient hand dryers in the Hunter Activity Center (HAC) bathrooms and LED light bulbs in the HAC gym. Andoe says these projects aren’t just environmentally efficient — they’re economically efficient, too.

“It saves the college money and makes it more green,” she says.

This year, EcoHouse also created Westminster’s first themed residence hall on the second floor of Emerson, with 22 residents, plus a resident adviser, dedicated to living sustainably and working on projects to help the campus in an ecofriendly way.

In the future, Andoe hopes to put all of this experience to work in the conservation field. She’d like to be working outside, either with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the U.S. Forest Service, perhaps on a land refuge, to help preserve species and educate people about preserving species. She did an internship with U.S. Fish and Wildlife last summer and hopes to do more internships after she graduates to gain more field experience.

Until then, she’s happy to be making her mark at Westminster, a place where she’s been able to grow and lead while being inspired by others who are doing the same. Part of that inspiration extends to alumni and donors of the Westminster Fund, which provides vital support to all areas of campus life, including the general scholarship fund, academic initiatives, leadership programs, student activities and more. Andoe says she’s grateful for the support she’s received from scholarships and alumni, though she’s just as quick to emphasize the importance of future donations.

“I think it’s important to remember how many ideas a lot of the professors and students here have to enact change and do these really cool things, and all they need are the funds to do it,” she says. “There are so many professors who have cool ideas and students who come here with fresh ideas that no one would have thought of, like the BikeShare program and tray-less dining hall. Donations like the Westminster Fund can bring this stuff to life.”

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