Life and classes in Vienna: meet Sophie Röhrl, CEU General Alumni recipient from batch 16

November 17, 2020

Meet Sophie Röhrl, MESPOM student batch 16 and CEU General Alumni Scholarship recipient. Sophie is part of the first class starting their MESPOM journey at the Vienna campus.

My journey to MESPOM

I have always been interested in the environment and how we can change our current economic systems and business practices to make them more sustainable and greener. I therefore studied Geography and Business Studies at the Ludwig-Maximilian-University of Munich, Germany and at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. I also interned with Siemens AG in strategic consulting both in the field of sustainable management and corporate social responsibility. The last half year I conducted an internship at the German Agency for International Development working on climate policies for the transport sector.

These experiences strengthened my belief that companies play an increasingly important role in environmental protection given our rapidly globalizing world. At the same time, however, it made me realize that internationally applicable guidelines for regulating their actions are indispensable. My professional goal is therefore to work at the nexus of environmental policy and sustainable business driving forward policies for circular and zero-carbon economies. Right now, I picture this to be either with an international organization such as the United Nations and the European Commission or in the industry itself.

Therefore, I was looking for a master’s program that enabled me to study in-depth the field of environmental policy and environmental management and combine this with expanding my international and intercultural skills. I think MESPOM provides me exactly with that!

Life and classes in Vienna (+ the inevitable shadow of Covid-19)

I’m part of the first batch that started its MESPOM journey in the beautiful city of Vienna, which definitely lives up to its reputation to be one of the most liveable cities in the world. Culture enthusiast will find tons of internationally renowned museums, theatres and operas and coffee lovers lots of cosy cafes. Although the Covid-19 pandemic currently restricts the vibrant Viennese lifestyle quite a bit, the city still has a lot to offer with all the beautiful parks and multiple hiking trails in and around Vienna.

I was very excited when our classes finally started on the 28th of September. In the beginning we had hybrid teachings, meaning in-person classes for the students and professors in Vienna and simultaneous online lectures for all students still waiting for their visas. Unfortunately, due to the new Covid-19 regulations imposed by the Austrian government, teaching was moved completely online in November. Although this is not ideal, our professors really try their best to make the teaching experience as engaging and varied as possible. Zoom break-out rooms are definitely our friend now!

My Volunteer Experiences and the CEU Alumni Scholarship

I feel pleased that I have been awarded the CEU Alumni Scholarship for my time at CEU. The scholarship recognizes students that show a strong commitment to community service.

I have always loved to stand up for my believes and values of protecting the environment not just through my studies and professional work, but also within volunteering. For example, during my time at the University of Alberta I held the position as “Sustainability Ambassadors” of the Student Union, launching the sustainability campaign "Ditch the Disposables" and a "Reusable Dish Program" for campus-wide events. One year ago, I also founded the green start-up SeaSoilution within the student social entrepreneurship initiative Enactus München e.V. By turning harmful sargassum algae bloom in the Dominican Republic into organic fertilizer, it provides an entrepreneurial solution for restoring marine ecosystems and improving the livelihood of local farmers. You can check out more here.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, volunteering at CEU has been a bit difficult due to the limited access to campus. However, I’m really looking forward to getting more engaged with the CEU community and starting my own (maybe online) project soon.

If you have any questions about MESPOM in general, the CEU Alumni Scholarship or life in Vienna, I’m more than happy to help!

Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

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