By Sarah Stone

This semester, Claire Henson has had the opportunity to go on the court at Reynolds Coliseum and on the field at Carter-Finley Stadium – and not just to celebrate wins over Clemson and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Wilson College of Textiles student has unique access to Wolfpack Athletics as the department’s sustainability marketing intern. 

The position is one of eleven internships offered across NC State this year through the University Sustainability Office’s “Campus as a Classroom” program. 

The internship, which lasts through the end of the academic year, immediately appealed to Henson as an opportunity to increase her experience with sustainability work. The textile engineering student says she’s always wanted a career that makes a difference, and since her senior year of high school, she’s known that improving sustainability is how she wants to change the world. 

“I took AP environmental science, and I learned that there were so many things going on in the world, like climate change and world hunger, all kinds of things related to sustainability,” Henson says. “And in that class, I started thinking, ‘Why is no one doing anything about this? This is something that affects every single person.’”

Every NC State team will host a sustainability-focused game or match this year. It’s Henson’s responsibility to determine how to best use the budget she’s been given to make an impact on sustainability through those events. 

“There is no other sustainability manager or other intern, so it was kind of up to me what I wanted to do with it,” she says. 

Her interpretation of the assignment has included highlighting student-athletes who are passionate about sustainability and bringing a textile recycling bin to Reynolds Coliseum. 

Henson has already completed a sustainability-focused internship with Unifi and she currently serves as president of Greater Good Textile Group. Her capstone project for Senior Design is also sustainability-based. Even though her resume is already full of sustainability experience, she says this internship is still providing her with a new set of skills. 

“These experiences all definitely overlap. I’ve learned so much from each part of it,” she says. “Now, in the athletics job, I’ve learned how hard it is to apply these events and marketing methods to try to convince someone who doesn’t necessarily care about sustainability that they should care, and I feel like if I want to make a difference in the world, that’s going to be a big part of it.”