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News > Alumni Spotlight > Taking on the Sustainability Challenge: Shery Rose Quieng '18

Taking on the Sustainability Challenge: Shery Rose Quieng '18

Shery, a former scholar, is pursuing her passion for food sustainability engineering. In this interview, she discusses her journey on shaping the future of food consumption and sustainability.

What was your dream whilst growing up? 

For me, it was to build a career founded on environmental protection and aid to societal needs. However, my home country’s pre-established and rigid career paths did not match what I wanted to do in life. Engrossed in natural sciences and problem-solving, I wanted to become an engineer, but in the Philippines, my options were limited – there were only chemical, mechanical or other traditional forms of engineering.

What role did SJI International play in furthering your interest?

My somewhat finite horizon widened when I received the scholarship to study at SJII. I encountered a new education system, several new people, and experienced different cultures. In this school, every student is empowered and taught to dream big and sail far while bearing integrity and service in mind. Hence, here I am in France, studying food sustainability engineering. 

What is sustainability, and why is it so important?

The United Nations defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” It is a balance among environmental, social and economic dimensions. The world population is ever-increasing, and resources are diminishing. The only way to secure the future of our incoming generations is to replace our current linear economic model – one which exploits natural resources and generates too much waste – with a more sustainable, circular approach. One such principle is waste valorisation.

For instance, AgriProtein, a British agricultural and biotechnology company, transforms organic food waste into protein feed for livestock and aquaculture sectors by breeding Black Soldier Fly larvae. The company wanted to replace fishmeal, which has become increasingly unsustainable due to the depletion of fish stocks. Concurrently, it diverts organic waste from landfills which would have otherwise generated methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

What changes do you want the world to adapt to in terms of pledging itself to a sustainable cause? 

After two years of studying and undertaking various research, it has become apparent that our choices as consumers make a significant impact on our environment. According to CSIRO in Australia, 50,000 litres of water is required to produce 1 kg of beef compared to 1,010 litres for 1 kg of wheat. With limited available freshwater and fertile soil, juxtaposed with an escalating global population, non-animal protein-sources can nourish more people. Therefore, I hope that each of us would choose a more sustainable diet for the sake of our 8 billion population and the environment. On that note, I dare say that countries must educate their citizens about sustainability as a compelling strategy to mitigate climate change while pursuing social and economic advancement.

Besides your passion for food sustainability engineering, what are your other pursuits? Any advice for fellow alumni who would want to walk a similar path as yourself?

Dancing and learning about other cultures through travelling and meeting other people are what I revel in most during my free time. The latter was also one of the factors why I decided to study in France. Despite the challenges of being away from home, the amount of growth I have undergone and the insights I have obtained make it all worthwhile. Thus, to my fellow IB students who want to engage in the same track or transformation as me, I advise you to pursue your passion and never abandon your ship.

 


 

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