At the start of this spring semester we’re halfway through another schoolyear at UCCS, barely dipping our toes into a new decade, and six months from the launch of PIPs at UCCS at the beginning of the fall 2019 semester. If you’re not familiar with PIPs (which stands for Positive Impact Points), our UCCS Sustainability webpage describes them as “a ‘currency of change’ – that are earned and redeemed for verifiable daily life behaviors that benefit the planet, community and personal health.” Students log their behaviors and actions in the PIPs Rewards app where they are able to earn and redeem their points for various rewards.
PIPs started at CU Boulder where it saw success in encouraging students to take more positive and sustainable changes in their life. UCCS adopted the program and launched it through the Office of Sustainability and students quickly took to it with a number of actions including scanning QR codes above water fountains for filling up their reusable water bottles, or receiving points for swiping their student ID on Mountain Metro buses. It’s been a massive success on our campus in establishing positive and sustainable habits, and all that good can largely be attributed to the work of one student employee: Ryan Maikell.
A transfer student in his first semester at UCCS, Maikell is a sophomore studying professional communication with an emphasis on strategic communication with plans for law school after graduation, which he says is a plan that feels validated by his current role as the PIPs Engagement Specialist.
“Understanding sustainability as holistic has been really interesting in how I view both my experience here at UCCS and my career path,” says Maikell.
The PIPs Rewards app has a variety of actions students can take to earn points. Not all actions, however, would strike one as being directly related to sustainability in the traditional sense. This is because, as Ryan says, the Office of Sustainability wants to ensure that students are not only caring for the environment, but paying attention also to positive actions that sustain themselves both personally and academically, since sustainability is something that should be considered beyond just environmental implications.
And that’s why Ryan says the Office of Sustainability “is doing everything in their power to offer all students the most amount of actions.” So often, he says, people view sustainability as tiresome or expensive, or something that only those who are well-off can consider integrating in their daily actions. But by constantly reviewing the data from the PIPs Rewards app and seeing how students engage, Ryan is able to constantly suggest improvements or additions to the app to make participation more accessible to everyone.
To top it all off, in addition to his full work week with the Office of Sustainability, Ryan is currently enrolled in 18 credit hours. So in the little time he has to decompress and take a break from work and study (although he says he thrives in high-pressure situations) Ryan enjoys skiing, hiking, and his newest family member: a husky puppy.
Maikell was nominated by his supervisor, senior sustainability program manager Kimberly Reeves, who was eager to sing praises of him:
“Ryan jumped into this brand new position and program and has elevated it to the point that UCCS is being used as the standard for PIPs programs at other institutions of higher education. He brings innovative ideas for marketing and program improvement to create a better user experience and ways to support our campus partners. We’re excited to see how Ryan continues to elevate the program and provide accessible PIPs and redemption options for the UCCS student community.”
Faces of UCCS is a series by Auxiliary Services Marketing highlighting outstanding student employees in the various Auxiliary Services departments. If you have a student you would like to nominate to be featured, email Jacob Guilez at firstname.lastname@example.org.