09:32 AM

UHD Senior Tooba Narejo Proves It Can Be Easy Being Green


By Sam Byrd

In academia, the Three Rs stand for “reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.” For the environmentally conscious, they stand for “recycle, reuse and reduce.” University of Houston-Downtown senior Tooba Narejo has blended both of these paradigms to use her studies as a launchpad for improving the Earth.

“Recycling is the first aid to protect our environment. It protects Earth’s natural resources,” she said. “When I see things being wasted, food being thrown away or people throwing away reusable items, that makes me sad because it doesn’t have to be that way. Recycling is a doable action.”

As a Management Information Systems (MIS) major in the Marilyn Davies College of Business, Narejo is also a student in the University Honors Program as well as involved with the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL). From here, she leveraged her resources to dive headfirst into environmental issues.

Through a partnership arranged via CCESL, Narejo accepted an internship under the guidance of Rachel Powers at Citizens Environmental Coalition (CEC) in a communications position in 2020. When Narejo started her internship, she was one of 25 UHD students selected from a pool of 118 applicants for the competitive summer program. She has continued to serve since then as part of the Federal Work Study Program and is an active member of CCESL’s Community Scholar’s Program.

During her time with CEC, she has been able to model her position more closely in line with the skills she is developing in her major.

“As an MIS major, my goal with this internship was to apply management, problem-solving and communication skills while working with CEC. Also, I am passionate to learn what resources we have to make Earth greener, its atmosphere better, how to reduce the rising sea levels, and to promote the awareness among social media and friends,” Narejo said.

The work paid off among her classmates when Narejo, along with a cohort of other CCESL participants, presented a poster during the program’s annual showcase to spotlight how UHD’s community members and interns work together to build healthier communities in Houston. Also, she presented her work with CEC via poster presentation at the Gulf Coast Summit. In addition, her proposal, “A Nomological Network of Supplier Integration and Customer Integration on Firm Performance,” has been accepted to the 2021 International Academy of Business Disciplines conference with Dr. Shuaifu Lin, Professor of MIS in the Department of Finance and Management Information Systems.

Further, her passion for leading the way in green initiatives has crossed over from her academics and internships to her personal life as well. She is encouraging her apartment management to install recycling bins on the property. While she is waiting for a decision on her proposal, she is proactively collecting leftover paper clutter from the mailroom to deliver to recycling centers.

Of course, no task this last year has been untouched by COVID-19, including Narejo’s mission to help make the world greener despite a shrinking number of places to drop off recyclable materials.

“When the University was open before COVID-19, I would take paper, plastics and metals and put them in different bins. I usually have bins full of plastic and paper in my car. Now, I drive to different places trying to find recycling spots, but a lot of my normal places aren’t operating,” she said.

Still, that doesn’t stop her. She credits her empathy as a main driver for her focus on making the world a little bit more eco-conscious.

“I want all communities to grow together. Nobody should be left behind. We should all be able to have education, food, and access to equity and justice. This is my main reason I wanted to be involved in the community, and I want my children to do the same,” she said.

Along with the help of her husband Ifran, it looks like her plan of inspiring the family is working. Narejo’s eldest child, 13-year-old Anabya, is an 8th grader involved in the Junior National Honor Society. 12-year-old Riyann is in middle school and a leader in the science advisory group. Her youngest child, 10-year-old Usher, is in elementary school and looks forward to following in his siblings’ footsteps.

Global Recycling Day will take place Thursday, March 18, but Narejo’s plans to save the Earth continue long past the annual celebration. She is already hard at work organizing an event with CEC that will celebrate Earth Day in April. It’s a passion she intends to follow long after she graduates this summer.