In 2005, as a graduate student in Suffolk’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) program, Erica Mattison had an idea. What she didn’t know was that her idea would land her a full-time job and inspire a new environmental awareness throughout the University.

It all started when Mattison saw an opportunity to expand Suffolk’s recycling program. After a few months of leading an advocacy effort, she connected with Suffolk’s Senior Director of Facilities Planning & Management Gordon King, who hired her as the University’s first recycling coordinator.

“As a graduate student at Suffolk, I learned that dedication, community organizing, and collaboration are key for having an impact on what you care about,” she said. “I want students to know that you don’t necessarily need a title to make a difference, but you do usually need partners.”

Taking the Initiative

Mattison worked collaboratively with students, campus groups, and faculty to make recycling available across campus. She also created educational signage, organized waste audits, met with departments, and hosted events. And she encouraged activism among students, which resulted in the Suffolk Bikes and the Suffolk Environmental Clubs.

New Heights

After overhauling the recycling program, Mattison began working on a wider range of environmental projects, from energy management to green buildings.

With support from several members of the Suffolk community, Mattison was promoted to campus sustainability coordinator.

Hard at Work

In 2007, Mattison completed her MPA degree and, within two years, enrolled in Suffolk’s law program, all while working full-time.

“It was important to me to continue working while pursuing my master’s and law degrees so I could continue to grow professionally, and Suffolk stands out as one of the few schools in Boston that’s geared toward people who are working full time,” said Mattison. She graduated from the law program in 2013 and passed the Massachusetts Bar Exam last fall.

Sustainability Success

During Mattison’s seven years working at Suffolk, Suffolk developed an award-winning sustainability program that saved hundreds of thousands of dollars. In fact, other organizations frequently approached Suffolk for advice on how to “go green.”

Moving Forward

Today, from her office at the Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM), Mattison overlooks Suffolk’s campus.

She frequently serves as a guest lecturer at Suffolk and provides guidance to students exploring career opportunities. She is also civically active in her Peabody Square neighborhood of Dorchester, Mass.

Looking Back

Mattison said her experiences at Suffolk helped her build a solid foundation for her career.

“I gained expertise in a number of areas that inform my work as a community activist and an advocate,” she said. “I also got to know faculty and students with a diverse range of experiences and skills. The connections I made, the engaging courses I took, and the skills I developed while at Suffolk created a solid foundation for my new career in state policy.”