Morgan O’Connell entered Lafayette as an art major but was undecided on a potential second major. After taking (and loving!) environmental geology (GEOL 110), she decided to enroll in more environmental courses and ultimately added a second major in environmental studies. O’Connell’s mounting environmental interests led her to enroll in a DIS study abroad program in Copenhagen.

Photo provided by Morgan O’Connell

Learning about sustainable practices in Denmark, specifically renewable energy, was a highlight of her time abroad. Part of her course of study involved making a wave energy documentary. She also took an urban planning course in Copenhagen and enjoyed learning about the city’s focus on biking as a means of transportation and the existing infrastructure that supports such transportation. Morgan has been biking around campus more since returning from her time abroad. Another unique student experience of Morgan’s is being a team leader for the Landis Center. She has been involved with the Landis Center since her first year at Lafayette and has found the experience to be transformative. As a team leader, Morgan helps provide healthy meals at the 3rd Street Alliance twice a week. “You really get to know people and bond. Food is one of the best ways relationships can be formed,” she explained.

In addition to off-campus study and volunteer work, Morgan feels the opportunity to blend her two majors and working with Professor Kerns in the art department have shaped her time at Lafayette. Professor Kerns’ artwork involves neuroscience and biology and provided Morgan with her first look at how art can overlap with science. Her senior thesis has a dual focus in art and environmental studies. Her work will address plastic pollution in oceans and water systems, including the Bushkill, to create a local tie to her project. O’Connell spent time wading through the Bushkill collecting trash for an art installation she has planned as part of her thesis.

During the summer before her senior year, Morgan worked at Eyebeam, a non-profit for the arts located in Brooklyn, NY. She decided to pursue work at a non-profit after taking EVST 310 Organizations and the Environment with Professor Andrea Armstrong. The work and ideas developed by her thesis as well as her experience working at a non-profit organization may inspire her plans for after graduation. She is considering pursuing opportunities at non-profit organizations and plans to continue painting environmentally focused pieces.