Virginia Borcherdt

Student Info

Graduation Year:
May 2009
Marquette, Michigan

What have you done since graduating and where are you now?
Since leaving MSU and RCAH, I have built a career in sustainability in both the non-profit and private sectors –I have a deep passion for the environment as well as humanity’s impact on our earth and its finite resources. Currently, I am finishing up my Masters in Business Administration at Portland State University while working full-time at Nike’s World Headquarters in Portland, Oregon. I’m on the Sustainable Business and Innovation team, and my role as Stakeholder Manager is to work with those inside and outside the company on collaborative initiatives that help accelerate Nike’s sustainability goals. Check out the website to learn more:

Outside of Nike, I serve on a Board of Directors for a local non-profit, the Crag Law Center. Crag's mission is to ensure equal access to justice by providing professional legal services for free or as close to free as possible, in order to preserve clean air, clean water, and diverse ecosystems for the benefit of local communities, the fish and wildlife inhabiting these places, and future generations.

Before Nike, I worked for the Carbon War Room, a non-profit dedicated to mitigating climate change through systems-level disruption in transportation, agriculture, clean tech, and other industry sectors. My first job out of college was as a program manager for a national extended producer responsibility recycling program. I’ve also had two internships – one at a wildlife conservation organization and the other for an environmental non-profit that works in the music industry. I spent almost a year on the road touring and educating concert goers and musicians on environmental issues.

How did RCAH prepare you for what you're doing now?
The RCAH enables an amazing intellectual community that is driven by curiosity and passion. In that sense, it is an ideal environment to learn and grow as an undergraduate student who is interested in the arts, humanities, and society. It helped me learn to ask the tough questions and to look at issues beyond the surface. The curriculum gave the guidance I needed but also the freedom to take electives in other disciplines to obtain an interdisciplinary understanding of sustainability through the lens of science, policy, and economics.

What were your academic interests in RCAH?
Anything to do with cultural studies, environmental issues, sustainable food systems, and social justice.

What were your favorite aspects of the RCAH experience?
The community. The other students, professors, and the RCAH staff create a welcoming and supportive environment to curate your educational experience and think about how to make a positive impact as artists, advocates, and academics.

Did you ever take part in Study Abroad/Study Away at MSU? 
Yes, I did an alternative spring break in Costa Rica. On that trip, I learned about RCAH from one of the professors, and knew immediately it was where I wanted to be.

What words of wisdom do you have for current RCAH students?
Don’t be afraid to follow your passion and figure out a way to make it work in the “real world.” Also, don’t underestimate the power of your professional and personal communities – they will help you find jobs, get you through the tough times, and remind you why you do the work you do.