GHM Alumni Profile: From the Classroom To the Courtroom

To celebrate GreenHawks Media’s 10th anniversary in 2020, the site will continue to feature profiles of alumni staff writers that contributed to the publication’s content and mission during their time at Miami University. Our first October spotlight is Olivia Bauer, a 2019 alum. Olivia served as Editor in Chief during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years.

By: Denali Selent

Even though our college years didn’t overlap, sitting down to speak with Olivia Bauer over Zoom wasn’t the first time I had heard her name. Olivia, a Miami alum and past Editor in Chief (EIC), left an incredible impact on the Greenhawks Media publication. Calling from Bloomington, Indiana, Olivia is currently a 2L (or second year) law student at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law since graduating from Miami in 2019 with a major in Professional Writing and an Environmental Science co-major. Olivia is set to graduate law school in 2022, and from there would like to pursue a career in environmental law.

Like many of us, Olivia can’t pinpoint a specific origin from which her interest in environmental science arose, but rather attributes it to a culmination of experiences. Growing up in a suburb of Chicago, she spent lots of time outside and developed a love for hiking and the outdoors. She began taking notice of sustainability issues from a young age, and even remembers setting up a recycling bin for the members of her gymnastics team to toss their Gatorade bottles in rather than into the trash. This is a tradition still upheld by the younger gymnasts! 

This interest in sustainability transitioned into Olivia entering Miami as a Biology major with an Environmental Science co-major. However, Olivia soon noticed the significant gap that exists between scientific expertise and the knowledge level of the general public. “Half of the problem regarding environmental issues is lack of understanding,” Olivia emphasized, leading her to switch her primary major to Professional Writing. Through coursework like an Environmental Communications class (IES 429/529) and Environmental Law (IES 450/550), Olivia developed skills which would prepare her to convey complex scientific topics in ways that are understandable, a critical facet to both her law studies and general interest in environmental advocacy. 

GreenHawks Media provided the perfect intersection of Olivia’s interest in environmental science, writing, and advocacy. She joined halfway through her sophomore year and quickly moved up to be EIC during her junior and senior years. During her time as EIC, Olivia developed a strong attention to detail and exceptional interpersonal skills, two things she credits as significantly contributing to her success as a law student. 

In addition, the position allowed her to “learn about so many different environmental topics” through reading student submissions, diversifying her breadth of knowledge even further. And apart from her duties as EIC, Olivia also enjoyed being a staff writer for GreenHawks. She recalls her favorite piece she drafted was called “iSave Species: Conserving Endangered Species One Zoo Visitor at a Time,” where she interviewed Lynne Myers of Miami’s very own Project Dragonfly on innovative technology to educate zoo-goers about conservation. 

During law school, Olivia has been exposed to a few of the complex challenges of pursuing an environmental career. Environmental law in general is “slow-moving and political,” she notes, and it can be frustrating when others don’t take your concerns seriously. In addition, environmental lawyers are often forced to make the difficult decision between working with a firm where they may be required to defend lucrative industries, or working for a nonprofit organization that may be underfunded and understaffed. Despite these challenges, “I love it [environmental law], and I know it will be so fulfilling,” Olivia said with a beaming smile.

In her short year and a half since graduation from Miami and commencing law school, Olivia has already become involved with a number of unique opportunities. She joined the Environmental Law Society and is working on a conservation clinic with a Bloomington nonprofit. In the clinic, Olivia and her team are proposing alterations to National Park Service regulations for water management within their land boundaries. In addition, she does research on Wildlife Law with an IU-Bloomington professor. 

As a student who graduated from Miami with both a major and co-major and managed a large student publication, having a busy schedule isn’t something new to Olivia. When she was able to grab a free hour or two while in Oxford, however, Olivia could be found hiking on the trails near Yager stadium, grabbing a build-your-own vegetarian sandwich from Bodega (which, unfortunately, doesn’t ship to Bloomington, Olivia laments), or jumping in on a spin class at the Rec. While the future is unknown, Olivia would someday like to join a powerful nonprofit, such as Sierra Club, where she could research and prepare cases for litigation. 

All photos courtesy of Olivia Bauer

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