Environmental Charter High School (ECHS) has more than a decade of graduates who have gone on to do big things for our country and this planet. From starting bike shops on college campuses to speaking at international conferences, ECHS alumni have made impressions on cities and communities around the world.
One shining example is Ashley Watts. Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, and an ECHS class of 2009 graduate, Ashley was once a shy and quiet girl. Now, you’d know her to be nothing but vibrant, outspoken and fearless in her passion to share sustainability with everyone. Her mother encouraged her to attend ECHS, even though Ashley really just wanted to go to “a regular high school” where all her middle school friends were enrolled. After learning about how special ECHS was, Ashley gladly became a White Tiger.
“I always wanted to go to college and at ECHS, it was a requirement to get into a college in order to graduate. My friends at other schools did not have that kind of motivation. It made me feel like my school wanted me to do better.”
Ashley felt that ECHS truly helped her prepare for college because it forced her to set high goals for herself. Attending ECHS and being exposed to the world of sustainability allowed Ashley to discover her passion for “going green.” In the Fall of 2009, Ashley moved across the country to attend Mississippi Valley State University.
Ashley’s passion for sustainability was further illuminated by her college experience when she became a Recycle Intern for Toyota. She was tasked with improving on-campus sustainability in the residential halls. Her project, entitled Recycle Mania, became a huge movement on campus and more than 5,000 students participated in recycling paper and plastic. Ashley’s team also started a Recycling Center on campus so that students could continue to recycle even after Recycle Mania ended. Her peers and advisors always complimented Ashley on being a great leader and team member.
“We had so many group-based projects at ECHS. It nearly drove me insane but it also molded me to who I am today. I love working in groups now,” Ashley shares.
Ashley is thrilled to announce her graduation from Mississippi Valley State University with a degree in Environmental Health. After years of hard work, she continues to further her education with plans to attend graduate school in the near future. She has her eye on the Sustainability Solutions program at Arizona State University. Her goal is to become the Safety Director for Occupational Safety & Hazard Association (OSHA) and serve as an inspiration to all while helping to save the world.
“ECHS made me think out of the box. Not everyone is exposed to the fact that we can all contribute to this world. But now I know I can. ECHS taught me that I can make a change, and that I am a part of the change.”
Environmental Charter Schools is proud to watch Ashley and other ECHS Alumni grow and impact our world. Every big change starts somewhere. We are honored to help cultivate these young community stewards to be that change we need.