Erin Raup

Erin Raup is a fifth-year architecture major here at Jefferson. She runs and is a captain for our cross country and track team, works as a building manager and a peer mentor for first years, and most importantly, attempts to live zero waste. Her passion for sustainability inspires people both on and off campus. I met Erin last year through cross country and can easily say she is one of the best people that I know. I wanted to ask her some questions about how she ended up at Jefferson, how you can make a difference in the world, and what her plans for the future are.


What made you come to Jefferson/PhilaU in the first place?

I've known I wanted to be an architect since I was in sixth grade. My dad used to own apartments that we would go fix up and renovate on weekends and I became very interested in how all of the different systems in a building work together to ultimately provide people with shelter. That being said, I became aware of the amount of impoverished people who cannot afford to fix their homes along with the amount of homeless people who simply just don't have a place to live. So, I decided to go to school for architecture because I wanted to have the knowledge to help those people who need it. 

During my senior year of high school, I found out that only 7 schools in Pennsylvania offered architecture as a major which limited my decision. And then since some of those were expensive and more competitive schools that I knew I wouldn’t be able to get into (like UPenn or Carnegie Melon), I applied to only three in PA which were PhilaU, Drexel and Temple. I visited all three and hated both Drexel and Temple because they were in the city, so that left PhilaU. It ultimately came down to either here or the University of Hawaii, because that's where my brother was going to college at the time. I really considered going to school in Hawaii, but ultimately decided that it was just too far away for me, so I chose PhilaU, two hours away from my hometown.


Where is the best place you have ever visited?

This one's a tough question because I usually don't get attachments to places, just the memories and experiences I had in a place. So generally, my favorite places are just places in nature where I don't have service and I can just be calm and live slowly without a care in the world. But if I had to pick a place, I guess I would probably say Copenhagen because it's an amazingly beautiful, sustainable city and the atmosphere and people there were just awesome. I only spent a few days there but the hope it gave me about where the world has the potential to go in terms of sustainability really gave me a lot of hope.


What has been your favorite memory or memories during your time at Jefferson/Philau?

I've made a lot of memories here and I definitely would not be able to pick just one. But similar to my favorite place, my favorite memories are my favorite memories because of who I share the memories with. All my fun memories are with cross country friends, from actual practices and meets, to just hanging out. Late nights in studio and mainly Kanbar are some of my other favorites. I wouldn't be able to pull all-nighters without having people I can spend a whole night with. All-nighters kind of suck but those have been some of my favorite nights and I've had some great conversations and created bonds with some of my friends which probably wouldn't have happened in another setting.


What advice do you have for people looking to reduce their waste production?

Don’t believe that just because you’re one person that you can’t make a difference. If you don’t like the way that something is, do something about it. Every time you buy something you’re voting for the type of product that you want. Never stop asking the question why: don’t just blindly follow what other people do if you have no idea why you’re doing something in the first place. If you want to reduce your waste production, be honest with yourself and figure out why and how you’re being wasteful in the first place. Once you figure that out, start making small changes in your life and find alternatives to the wasteful products you currently use. One of my favorite quotes is “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Do your best, but above all else, make sure that you are happy.


What are your plans after graduation?

Short answer: I have no idea but I know I just want to be happy and not go the traditional architecture route.

Long answer: Directly after graduation I am probably going to be living in a van (converted, not down by the river; although maybe). I'm planning to buy a van within the next couple of months and then I will spend spring semester converting it. Ideally, I'd like to travel around the United States in the van for a few months after graduation. But, realistically, depending on if I get a job/want a job closer to graduation, I might get a job and work for a year (tops hopefully) while living in my van so I can pay off all of my loans. After that, I honestly have no concrete plans, I just want to see where life takes me and be doing something that makes me happy and makes a difference. Basically, I have a lot of goals but I'm not quite sure how I'm going to achieve them yet. It's pretty likely that I won't be doing much work with architecture, or at least maybe not at a firm or at a steady 9-5 job because of my passion for sustainability on a more personal, everyday level. Honestly if I look for a job after school it is probably going to be about reducing waste and educating people about the effects of the unnecessary waste we create. I haven't lost my desire to help homeless and impoverished families through architecture and it's possible I will do that type of work either on my own or as some type of volunteer or part time job. I just don't really want to work in an office all day or work a 9-5. And if I am going to work at a firm, it will have to be a green architecture firm and maybe for tiny homes.


You can follow Erin’s zero waste adventures on Instagram at @lessismore_e