[WE Talk] Maitreya Rose: Engineering for the Health of our Planet

Maitreya Rose

Engineering for the Health of our Planet

On this episode:

  • Explorations of life as a Zoom student at Boston University
  • Reflections on past inspirations leading to present-day endeavors
  • Inspired plans and visions for a sustainable future
  • From Waldorf student to creative engineer
  • Engineering with a deeper purpose

Episode Transcript:

NIta June: Hello, and welcome to WE Talk, a podcast that explores the role of Waldorf education in helping children, parents, and families thrive in an ever-changing world. WE Talk is brought to you by Shining Mountain Waldorf School.

Hello, wonderful WE Talk listeners, thank you so much for joining me today, yet again, on another episode. May this episode find you safe and warm and doing well in this December holiday time. On today’s episode, I interview Maitreya Rose, who graduated just a few years ago from Shining Mountain. She’s currently attending Boston University where she is majoring in physics and environmental engineering. We talk through the pieces of her Waldorf education that inspired her and that have supported her in her work and her studies today, and also her future dreams and visions for making the world a better place in the many years ahead of her. Thank you for joining us.

Welcome, Maitreya. Thank you so much for being on this episode of the WE Talk Podcast.

Maitreya Rose: Thank you for having me.

Nita June: Absolutely. To start at the very beginning as one often does a story, how long, Maitreya, were you a student at Shining Mountain?

Maitreya Rose: I was a student starting in 7th grade through 12th, so I believe it’s six years, but I had been in Waldorf or like iterations of Waldorf since preschool.

Nita June: Nice. And what are some of your favorite memories of your six years there at Shining Mountain?

Maitreya Rose: There are certain morning lesson blocks I really loved and really influenced what I wanted to be later. I really loved embryology. I really loved anything to do with physics, that type of deal. I really loved a lot of our class trips. Weirdly, one of my favorite ones is probably the senior solos. I feel like the solo itself had its ups and downs, but I feel like that was one of the times in the senior year where my class really felt like it was kind of jelling. I also really liked our Mesa Verde trip. I just have fond memories of that one. I feel like the community was a big part of the big moments I enjoyed.

Nita June: Completely. I totally resonate with you on those, on the class trips. And they almost felt like they made everything else richer also, like your main lessons before and after, just that whole community-building experience that like you’re all in it together.

Maitreya Rose: Yeah. And I feel like on class trips, I would make friends that I wouldn’t- They’re not people I would sit next to in class or anything. So I feel like the friends I made later in high school all happened on class trips.

Nita June: Nice. You mentioned that some of your favorite main lessons were embryology and anything having to do with science and physics, and you are indeed now majoring in physics and environmental engineering as a sophomore at Boston University. Can you share with our listeners a little bit about your first year there last year, maybe some of the challenges and some of the bright points?

Maitreya Rose: I think a very obvious one is COVID. I had decided to take a gap semester to study abroad in London last summer. So I got about seven weeks on campus, and I’d say that those seven weeks were probably the bright point. They were pretty great. I felt like I was somehow more social than I’d ever been. I really, really liked my classes. I felt like Boston is really cool when it was up and running. It’s such an academic city. You go to the coffee shop and there’s people from like MIT, which is insane. They’re so smart. It was really cool to be there.

Then I think one of the biggest challenges has been COVID, and then I was expecting to be in college for a year straight because I was doing spring, summer, fall, spring, but not being in London this summer and having to do Zoom then, and then also getting back into Zoom now, I think the biggest challenge is just that I am so tired of looking at my computer.

Nita June: I’m sure many of our listeners can resonate with that. We’re all Zooming our lives away. I know you have a limited experience of your time being in-person in your classes, but in that time, what did you feel like was the greatest difference in terms of your classes, your community, and maybe your teachers in between Shining Mountain and Boston University?

Maitreya Rose: I feel like college ramps it up a lot, which I mean is just wherever you come from, college will hopefully ramp it up. I really enjoy school. I always have really enjoyed school. So I kind of get into a rhythm where I feel really like the checking things off my to-do list makes me really happy. So I really enjoyed that part of college, especially when I was in Boston. When I’m at home, it’s a little bit harder. I feel like one of the biggest differences with teachers and stuff is they won’t come find you if they think you’re struggling.You have to go find them.
I feel like once I started to do that, I genuinely don’t really feel like my teachers were that different in the way that they had their relationships with me. Like when the Calwood fire just happened, my family and I got evacuated, and one of my professors from spring emailed me and asked if I was okay. I just feel like I have very close connections with a lot of my professors still, which is very encouraging, because I feel like a lot of people were talking about how, oh, in college you just don’t get as much support, but I think you have to seek it out and then you do get it.

Nita June: Yeah, I so agree with that. Absolutely. And you had the experience from before with your relationships with your teacher, that you knew to seek it out, that that opportunity even was there for you. That’s one of the reasons why, especially the good teachers, teach because they want to support bright young minds to learn and to grow and to develop. I’m so happy that you’ve had a good experience in that capacity. Maitreya, what prompted you to declare a major in physics and environmental engineering? And how has it been going for you? And is it really hard to double major in both of those things?

Maitreya Rose: BU has this program called Interdisciplinary Physics, which is kind of a big part of why I chose BU, which is basically, you’re going to get a degree, a bachelor’s in science and physics from Boston University, but you’re basically choosing something else to go along with it. I think technically what the term for what I’m going to do with that is biophysics and environmental studies, but the field I’m going into is physics and environmental engineering, hopefully with that.
I chose to do that because I am very passionate about climate change, and I don’t really have the oomph to be an activist, I guess. So this is the way that I want to go about fixing it. I want to go into research for renewable energies and that sort of thing, and try to be in the more scientific exploration of how we can fix this huge issue in the world right now.

Nita June: Is that what you would say is kind of the thrust of environmental engineering?

Maitreya Rose: I think environmental engineering, yeah. It’s kind of like a subset of civil engineering, and civil engineering does include petroleum engineering and stuff like that. I think it’s just more specifically the environmental aspect, which is why I think I’m going to mostly focus in biophysics, because I do think I want to go into the research aspect instead of the design aspect of it all. But I did go back and forth a lot between nuclear physics or biophysics. I think part of it for me is that we will need to get off nuclear eventually. That’s not where we can just end up. This is very idealistic. I’d rather be trying to help find what the next step past that is.

Nita June: Excellent. Good big picture thinking on your part.

Maitreya Rose: Thank you. As far as it’s been going, I think it’s been really hard on Zoom, and I think everyone in person would say it’s been really hard there as well. And it’s hard to deal with people cheating on exams. I don’t think a lot of people do, but the few people that do, messes up the curve, and it is just a very hard major. So I think I definitely go up and down with how well it’s going.

Nita June: So there are people that are in-person learning right now.

Maitreya Rose: Kind of. I think if I was there, I’d go to one lecture every three weeks because of the rotation. So kind of.

Nita June: Not a huge incentive to be there in person, and what a terrible thing that people are taking advantage of the system right now.

Maitreya Rose: I think there always have been those people, but it just is a little bit easier right now. I don’t think it’s very many people. It’s just like the few that do, make it feel a little bit like, oh, well, if I get a C, there’s not a way to go up.

Nita June: Maitreya, you’ve spoken a little bit to this about your ideal dreams for the future and what you want to do. Can you share a little bit more about that?

Maitreya Rose: Honestly, I’m not a hundred percent sure what it looks like specifically. I’m a big believer in taking the steps that seem like the best steps, and then whatever happens will happen. I think that’s a little bit maybe from my Boulder upbringing, but I would really like to be a part of the research into new renewable energy sources to make everything a little more sustainable. I want to be able to have kids that can grow up in a world that I don’t think is going to catch on fire. So I’m passionate about that, and ideally in my future, I can make steps to change the way things seem like they’re going right now.

Then I think ultimately someday I’ll be a teacher. I think I’ll probably do kind of what Mr. Moffitt did. I remember he came, and I thought that was such a cool thing. He did research and all of that for a bit, and then he went to go be a teacher. I like being around kids. I think it’s also important to teach new people about things. That might be the final goal, but the intermediate is more of the research-based thing.

Nita June: I want to just reflect back. You said something like you didn’t have the energy or the character or even the desire to be like an activist. In many ways, this is more important than being an activist. It’s actually doing that work so the activists can go out and say, “Hey, we need to implement this technology that is real and is available.” Push towards that. Thank you for care-taking for our future.

Maitreya Rose: I really hope it works out. It’s a very lofty goal, and I’m going to work hard to get there, and we’ll see what happens.

Nita June: Maitreya, with individuals like you at the helm, I think we’re in good hands. Your, not just optimism, but your drive and your dedication and your passion. Actually, this is a question that just popped into my mind right now. Do you feel like your upbringing with your family and/or your classes at Shining Mountain affected this interest in sustainability and in working with the environment?

Maitreya Rose: I would say Shining Mountain, yeah, because I feel like it was just like being around people with those similar interests. They canceled school to support everyone going to the climate March and stuff like that. So I feel like because of Shining Mountain, I did have the opportunity to be a little more into that aspect. I never really feel comfortable at marches. I always kind of freak out a little bit. I don’t like social media or posting about anything, so clearly I’d be a terrible, terrible activist, but I think I kind of want to be, and I think that that drove it a little bit.

I’ve grown up on a farm, and I see how hard it can be to live sustainably and how hard it can be to not drive and that type of thing. And I think my mom is a little bit of a hippie in the best way possible. I love her so much, but I think the respect for the earth to say is kind of a way I don’t like to say, but I think that’s ultimately what it is, led me to think about this as a career path and the fact that I loved science a lot as a kid, I think made it so it was kind of more of a clear direction to follow.

Nita June: If you could go back in time and share a few words of wisdom or love or a blessing or something to your past high school self, what words might you share?

Maitreya Rose: Probably, take a gap year. There’s going to be a pandemic. Maybe also, I guess just calm down a little bit. It’ll be okay. You don’t need to take everything so seriously, you can not need to be the best at everything, and you can just try to be as good as you can be and that’s enough.

Nita June: Wise words and reminders I think for all of us at all points in our life. Well, the last bit, maybe not take a gap year, avoid the pandemic. Don’t we all wish we could do that. Can we all just take a gap year right now?

Maitreya Rose: Push pause for a bit.

Nita June: Oh, my dear. I truly feel inspired and grateful to you that you’re out there doing this work, whether you’re in your home in Lyons, on Zoom, pushing things forward, or back in person, possibly in the spring. What are the plans right now for BU?

Maitreya Rose: I didn’t go because I didn’t trust the political environment around the pandemic as well as the schools individually. I felt like they were all going to kind of mess it up, and I feel like a lot of them have, but BU has been testing people every three days. I think the most cases they’ve ever had in a day is 15. Usually they’re getting zero to five. With that, and then the fact that I think my physics professor is making a lab in person mandatory next semester, I think I’ll probably end up going back. I haven’t decided if I’m happy about that or not.

Nita June: Yeah. All these challenging choices that we’re called to make right now. Nothing is ideal, that’s for sure. Well, if anybody is a model I feel like of flexibility and go with what’s asked of them, as I say this, I’m reminded of you, my dear, playing a very special animal character Into the Woods in the musical, and your flexibility and your heart and your graciousness in stepping into that, my dear, you were so wonderful.

Maitreya Rose: I think that the Into the Woods is probably one of the highest bright points and the lowest low points as far as school went.

Nita June: That was a challenging time, but everybody pulled it off. And it was amazing. It was really amazing, as were you. Well, dear Maitreya, thank you so much for spending some time with me today on this podcast, and I appreciate your being here.

Maitreya Rose: Thank you so much for having me.

Nita June: Take care.

Maitreya Rose: You, too.

Nita June: Thank you for listening to WE Talk, brought to you by Shining Mountain Waldorf School and hosted by Nita June. WE Talk is made possible because of listeners like who invest in the production of the show. Share your appreciation for what you’ve heard today. Help us explore the value of Waldorf education and preparing our children for the future by going to patreon.com/wetalkpodcast. If you’d like to be interviewed, have a suggestion for an episode ahead, or simply wish to share feedback, please email us at wetalk@smwaldorf.org.