Mae Rohrbach’s leadership stems from strong cultural tradition

Feb 09. 2015

Eleanor Skelton
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Sophomore Mae Rohrbach just watched “Interstellar,” a 2014 film about a decaying Earth, but she has been involved in sustainability efforts since well before then.      “We don’t have another Earth, and we need to take care of this one now,” Rohrbach said.

“The millennials are so innovative and I feel like nothing can stop us. We need to take that attitude and focus it on the problems we have today,” she added.

Rohrbach is majoring in geography and environmental science and minoring in sustainable development and leadership. She is in the Chancellor’s Leadership Class, and serves as student at large for the Green Action Fund, a volunteer intern at the Office of Sustainability, an officer for the Asian Pacific Islander Student Union and works in CLC office.

“I get to interact with lots of different groups, and I get to explore campus more and really take advantage of what UCCS offers,” she said.

Rohrbach became interested in the CLC after holding several leadership positions in high school. She believed the program would develop her leadership skills in the community as well as with family and friends.

The course includes seminars with community leaders such as the chancellor, the director of Financial Aid Jevita Rogers, and a talk with Steven Covey, whose father wrote the best-seller “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”

“I know it was all about the numbers, but … we have a new director now, Garrett Gatlin, and he’s all about trying to find people who are really passionate about leadership and who want to be taught,” she said.

In the Sustainable Me freshman seminar, Rohrbach and two other students, Zachary Jensen and Oren Facey, submitted a proposal to prevent waste of toilet water in the dorms to the Green Action Fund as part of a course assignment.

“The toilets were 3.5 (Gallons Per Flush),” she explained in an email. “We decided to replace the toilets in Summit Village with 1.28 GPF toilets. Around 200 toilets were taken out and replaced in the dorms over a two week period in May [and] June.”

Rohrbach, Jensen and Facey later presented this story at several conferences.

Now as a member of GAF, other proposals excite Rohrbach’s passions as well.

“The Rec Center … just recently put in an application for treadmills that you have to power, so self-generating treadmills, so that’s super exciting, we just passed that last week,” she said.

“I love being on the Green Action Fund because I get to be part of those major changes on campus.”

The next project GAF is pursuing is reusable to-go boxes for UCCS dining services.

Aside from her sustainability efforts, Rohrbach also has a passion for cultural dancing.

Rohrbach attended a cultural Chinese school in her hometown, Highlands Ranch. She participated in traditional Chinese dance for 15 years at the school, including both fan and scarf dances.

Her group has performed at Regis and in downtown Denver, and she would like to continue dance while in Colorado Springs.

“I love to dance. It’s a way to relieve stress, but also to express myself. Because I’m adopted, it was part of my growing up in America, but also being Chinese and being able to go to a place where other adoptees are,” Rohrbach said.

She attends adoptee camps and conferences to help motivate younger adoptees to discover themselves and become confident.

Rohrbach credits her cultural and family background in forming much of her passion for sustainability.

“My dad used to tell me whenever he would go into a bathroom, he’d always make sure it was cleaner by the time he came out, [like] picking up some of the paper towels on the floor,” she said.

“I think that can be applied to anything, when you start a relationship, going into it and coming out of it in a positive way.”