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Urban and regional planning graduate student wins Outstanding Commitment Award


BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 12, 2009 – Sarah Swenson, of Delano, Minn., a Virginia Tech graduate student in urban and regional planning, has received a 2009 Outstanding Commitment Award from Clinton Global Initiative University in partnership with the Pat Tillman Foundation and the Wal-Mart Foundation.

Swenson receives one of 78 grants bestowed by the organizations to support innovative, high-impact commitments to action designed to strengthen communities and lives around the world.

Swenson plans to develop an ecological sanitation project at a secondary school in Nakuru, Kenya. The sanitation system would create employment, improve the community’s health, lower rates of pollution and create access to sanitation. It would also teach students about the benefits of recycling their waste into nutrients.

To begin the process, Swenson would start a community-wide discussion on the most appropriate ecological sanitation project for this community. From this conversation, the details and logistics of this project will be developed and a timeline for completion (and maintenance) will be formulated. Swenson says her goal is to create a community-led endeavor in which all stakeholders feel ownership and responsibility.

This semester, Swenson is one of 15 American students selected for the Transatlantic Renewable Energy Fellowship, which is funded by the German government. She is living in Bonn, Germany, and working for ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, an international association of local governments, collaborating with other national and regional organizations that have made a commitment to sustainable development.

Swenson received a bachelor’s degree in South Asian studies and social science from the University of Minnesota Morris.

The Master of Urban and Regional Planning is a two-year, interdisciplinary professional degree open to students from a wide variety of undergraduate fields. It is administered through the urban affairs and planning program in the School of Public and International Affairs, College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

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