Photo by Mary Koziol.

An environmentalist through and through, Mary Koziol saw an opportunity to make change for the better at McMaster University when she was elected president of the McMaster Students Union (MSU) in 2010.

One campaign promise that would later define her presidency was to bring a farm stand to campus. Almost immediately after being elected, Koziol began to develop partnerships with Hospitality Services and the McMaster Office of Sustainability to turn her vision into reality.

The farm stand, stocked with fresh and locally sourced produce from nearby farms, debuted in the summer of 2010 (with Andrew Chong, #13 on our list, assisting Koziol with this large task). Along with weekly sales, it offered educational outreach around nutrition and local foods.

Koziol also implemented a ban on plastic disposable water bottles in the offices of the MSU administration. Much like at the farm stand, she used available channels to educate students on the environmental concerns surrounding water bottles. Plans are in place to extend the ban to all MSU offices in the fall of 2011.

Now that her term with the MSU has concluded, she is employed by the office of McMaster University’s president, where she works on initiatives to better connect the university with the Hamilton community. Her environmental work with the MSU has lived on through the change in administration and will continue, at least in the foreseeable future, to be a priority for the Union.

Aside from her duties with McMaster and its students union, Koziol has been a part of the McMaster Outdoors Club, a member of the Open Streets Hamilton steering committee, an IMPACT! Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership delegate and Green Venture community garden volunteer. She has also led a group of university students on a one-month trip to Brazil through the Global Youth Network. There, she lived in an Amazonian indigenous community, facilitating discussions on environmental concerns in the Amazon.

Koziol remains a committed activist, vegetarian and leader among her peers. No matter her career choice, she is certain that her environmentalism will define both her personal and professional life.