June 2010: Nora A. Sluzas '05

Nora A. Sluzas ’05 is fully ensconced in a Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Fellowship in China. The Fellowship was awarded to her by Harvard University, from which she was graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Science and Public Policy in June 2009.

A true achiever in both academics and athletics, Sluzas graduated cum laude from Hotchkiss and was the recipient of several major school prizes. She was captain of both the Girls Varsity Ice Hockey team and the Varsity Ultimate Frisbee team. At Harvard, Sluzas spent four years on the Womens Varsity Ice Hockey team, playing on a top-10 nationally-ranked Division I team. She was voted on to the ECAC All-Academic Women’s Ice Hockey team in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Sluzas was the recipient of a Harvard College Program in Science and Engineering award, three fellowships in addition to the Rockefeller Fellowship, and the best Environmental Science and Public Policy Thesis Award.

Sluzas began an affiliation with the Harvard China Project in April 2008, working as a research assistant and as a team member investigating renewable energy technologies, specifically modeling wind power potentials for the U.S. and China. Sluzas reflects, “I can distinctly remember the announcement that Hotchkiss had purchased seven percent of its electricity from wind power. I wrote my senior college thesis on the variability of wind power, and it is no coincidence that my interest in working toward a sustainable and more secure energy future has become my passion.”

The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Fellowship enables its recipients to seek a deeper understanding of the common human experience through respectful exploration, challenge, and discovery of a different culture. The Fellowship is awarded to young men and women of good intelligence who demonstrate a seriousness of purpose, independence, interest in people, and concern for the struggles of their fellow man in the modern world. Sluzas wanted to improve her communication skills and to pursue her study of Mandarin Chinese. But her primary goal was to travel to China to live within a Chinese community’s energy restraints to help her understand the missing variables and the human element, a world-view shaping experience. She wanted to interact with rural communities affected by renewable energy. “Insight into how Chinese lives are affected by energy can only be gained when the barriers of being an outsider are lowered and deeper intimacy is acquired. I think it is imperative to evaluate the effects these projects have on local communities before we conclude that wind, solar, or other potential technologies are the panacea to the world’s energy problems.”

After spending some time learning her way around Beijing, Sluzas began volunteering for the Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE), a non-profit organization working to change the way China creates and uses energy. JUCCCE has a 10-year mandate to visibly accelerate the greening of China. As Project Coordinator, Sluzas works with the Technical Director conceptualizing and creating content for a bilingual clearinghouse Web 2.0 site for energy-related projects. JUCCCE has recently started a Rural Sustainable Solutions program to help implement sustainable technologies within those communities. Sluzas travelled last month to northern Mongolia to investigate the opportunities to improve heating systems currently deployed in rural schools.

Additionally, Sluzas is involved with two separate companies in Beijing, Equinox Energy Partners Corporation and Azure International Technology Development Ltd. Equinox is an international independent firm that provides corporate advisory and private placement services, with a focus on renewable energy and cleantech enterprises in emerging markets. There, Sluzas helps the Managing Director advise U.S. national and sub-national government groups on cleantech opportunities in China by providing research and analysis. Azure provides consulting services to clients who are looking to participate in China’s wind industry. At Azure, her work included the editing of a report on China’s offshore wind energy market and the potential opportunity for Norway to enter the growing market.

For Sluzas, attitude is everything. She has adopted the philosophy of “Yes,” or “Why not?” In summary, she says, “The growing interest in China’s ‘green’ development means that there are opportunities at every corner, which is evident by the varied experiences I have had so far. Beijing’s diverse community also means there are always chances to experience new cultures and traditions, Chinese or otherwise. I began my exploration of the many different pathways I can follow to generate the impact I hope to have. From each experience I take away a better understanding of the different players in this vast, always-expanding field of energy and the environment of China. By simply being in Beijing, I feel that my awareness of my surroundings and the way energy is used has been heightened.”

Sluzas considers Hotchkiss to be “a world of opportunities” and credits the School, and in particular an AP Environmental Science course, with igniting her greatest passion – a sustainable and more secure energy future for us all.

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