New Year, New Leaders: Meet our spring intern, Sumi

By Kate Breimann
Advocate, Environment Maryland

Hi! My name is Sumi Kim and I’m so excited to be working with Environment Maryland for the spring semester. I’m a junior Environmental Studies/Creative Writing major at Johns Hopkins University and I live in London, UK, though I was originally born in Hong Kong. 

Sustainability concerns weren’t always something that I was acutely aware of. Growing up in Hong Kong meant that environmental issues were certainly present — beaches were filled with litter, single-use products were the norm, and there were days at recess where we couldn’t go outside because air pollution levels were too high — but I never made the connection between these smaller issues and the larger problem. It wasn’t until I left Hong Kong that I actually became educated about climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss through an environmental science course. Suddenly, everything was so much clearer. There was science behind our air pollution days, wildlife that was affected by the plastic bags in our oceans, wild open space that was being demolished in favor of skyscrapers. Everything was clearer, and yet nothing made sense — in the face of these massive issues, nobody was taking the necessary action. 

So I made the choice to change my own lifestyle. I cut out red meat immediately, eventually transitioning to a fully vegetarian lifestyle. I served as an Environmental Monitor at my high school, organizing sustainability events and spreading awareness in the student body. And most importantly, though I had applied to Hopkins as a psychology major, I immediately switched to Environmental Studies — I knew that was where my heart truly lay. 

At JHU, I am a member of the Students for Environmental Action club at Hopkins. I worked for the Office of Sustainability for a year doing sustainability-oriented event planning and training. I spent my past summer in Greece, camping on the beach to conduct sea-turtle conservation research. And now, I am so excited to get to work with Environment Maryland on some of the most important environmental legislation to be seen in the state so far. I want to work on the issues that plague us now and will plague us for generations if we don’t address them — things like saving the bay, pesticide usage, single-use plastic reduction. Thinking about my experience in Hong Kong, I don’t want local Marylanders to grow up surrounded by environmental issues yet have no idea what caused them. I want people to care about our environment, and I want to make sure our government does too. Surrounded by like-minded, hard-working colleagues at Environment Maryland, I am really looking forward to taking on new challenges and fighting for a sustainable Maryland.