Sara Collier is a graduate of the Sustainable Technologies program at Central Carolina Community College, but even before going through the program, was not a stranger to the idea of sustainability. Collier is also passionate about sustainable agriculture, which she already had a degree in before starting her journey in renewable energy.
“I wanted to add to that [sustainable agriculture] background and do something else that would really help to sustain local economies and communities for the future. Renewable energy just seemed like a natural expansion upon local food systems and what I’d already been doing,” says Collier.
Collier was a student in the Sustainable Technologies program for two and a half years, and strongly believes that the program’s success comes from the fact that instructors are incredibly passionate about what they teach, as well as “the fact that they have a real personal relationship with their students and the people in the community.”
Further, the program focuses on technical skills and students get to apply the technical knowledge they learn directly through a “hands-on” approach. She also adds that the program taught her valuable communication skills, and provided students with a sense of community, adding that she “never felt like just a student.”
“That’s really a very important part of sustainability,” she says thoughtfully, “It’s reaching out and fostering that sense of community and cohesion and pride in where you live and what you do.”
Since graduating, Collier has been working as a HERS rater and a National Green Building Standard verifier for the company, Southern Energy Management. She also returned to CCCC this past spring semester to teach the building science class there.
Collier also wants to tell students and those aspiring to work in the renewable energy industry that it’s ok to not know exactly where you want to end up when you start out. One upside to the industry, according to Collier, is once you find something you really love, you can specialize. For Collier, her passion ended up being in building sciences. The possibilities are endless. The industry doesn’t revolve around one thing, there’s a real need for people in marketing, sales, web development, and IT, just to name a few things. And that’s just in the present.
“There’s a tremendous amount of opportunities there, and it will only continue to grow. I’m sure of that.”