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Congratulations to the Class of 2022

By Jorge Haddad, Student Writer

On May 10, the Loyola University Chicago School of Environmental Sustainability (SES) held commencement for the class of 2022. Of the 144 total graduates, 49 earned master’s degrees in environmental science and sustainability, 89 completed bachelor’s degrees, and six received post-baccalaureate certificates.

During their time at Loyola, these students managed tremendous changes in their daily routines. Their experience included online, and in-person learning as the school adapted to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these challenges, this year’s graduates found opportunities to connect, grow, and give back to the community. They enter the next phase of their lives equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to take on some of the world’s biggest environmental challenges. 

SES presented outstanding achievement awards to the following graduates who went above and beyond in areas including academics, research, leadership, and service. 

Matt Lorentz, SES Class of 2022Matthew Lorentz

Aldo Leopold Award for Outstanding Achievement

The recipient of this award has demonstrated excellence both academically and in service toward a greater good.

Matthew Lorentz is a graduate from Wooster, Ohio. He decided to pursue a major in environmental science and a minor in political science. Matt said his experiences at SES prepared him for real life.  

“SES has definitely set me up to deal with large-scale problems,” he said. “The interdisciplinarity of the school has allowed me to feel comfortable in both quantitative and qualitative settings, which will be beneficial in the future. More than that, SES has fostered a great community for me and reinforced my passion for environmental action.” 

Matt said that highlights of his college experience included participating in The Global Climate Strike of 2019 and attending Eco Prom in 2021. In the future, he plans to work in the environmental science field before specializing in renewable energy and engineering.

Stephen Matz, SES Class of 2022Stephen Matz

Rachel Carson Award for Academic Excellence  

This award goes to the SES graduating senior who earned the highest GPA. 

Stephen Matz, originally from Schaumburg, Illinois, majored in environmental science. While taking a lab class on chemistry in the environment with Dr. Tham Hoang, Stephen conducted multiple experiments that expanded and deepened his understanding of the environment. The experience helped him realize that one of his biggest passions is forest conservation and restoration. When talking about his favorite experiences at Loyola, he recalled participating in a Solutions to Environmental Problems (STEP) course on biogas. Here, he and his classmates proposed the installation of a bio-digester to turn Loyola’s food waste into electricity. 

Looking to the future, Stephen feels frustrated by the degradation of forests worldwide, and he plans to use his environmental science degree to preserve the ecosystems he holds dearest. 


Beth Thilges, SES Class of 2022

Elizabeth Thilges

Berta Isabel Caceres Flores Award for Outstanding Leadership

This award recognizes an SES graduate for exceptional leadership. 

Elizabeth Thilges is originally from Des Moines, Iowa. She graduated with a double major in environmental science and environmental policy and a minor in economics. During her career at Loyola, Restoration Ecology became Beth’s favorite class. She said that it significantly improved her science writing and noted that the class field trips helped her realize what restoration can look like in practice. Beth believes that SES helped her foster skills such as collaborating with other people and organizing her workload to achieve her goals. Some highlights of Beth’s experiences at Loyola included volunteering at the Loyola University Retreat and Ecology Campus (LUREC) as co-president of the Restoration Club and helping plan fun environmental events as treasurer of the Student Environmental Alliance. After graduation, Beth plans to do work focused on restoration and conservation.   


Chloe Lilliston, SES Class of 2022Chloe Lilliston

James E. Hansen Award for Outstanding Performance in an Environmental Internship 

This award recognizes the outstanding performance of a graduating senior in an internal SES internship. 

Chloe Lilliston, from Waverly, Minnesota, graduated with a major in environmental studies and a minor in sustainable business. She talked about her experience in the sustainable agriculture class as someone who grew up on a farm. 

“It was really interesting to learn about all the complexities of sustainable agriculture after having some basic agricultural knowledge and experience,” she said. “I particularly enjoyed the crop plans we had to design because they needed to fit together like a puzzle while still offering some creative freedom to pick the crops we wanted.” 

Chloe believes the most important aspects of her experience at SES were the opportunities to deepen her understanding of sustainability and develop her passion for social justice. She also noted that she met some very good friends and her boyfriend while studying at Loyola. She recalled how she and her two best friends first connected during the welcome week of her first year. Following graduation, Chloe plans to continue her education at Loyola by earning an MBA while working at the intersection of sustainability and business. 

Christina Bozio, SES Class of 2022Christina Sophia Bozio

Wangari Muta Maathai Award for Outstanding Service 

This award recognizes one SES graduating senior for excellence in service to others.

Christina Sophia Bozio from Arlington Heights, Illinois, majored in environmental science. Christina said she highly values how SES prepared her for her future career by providing numerous opportunities to learn outside the classroom. Some of these experiences include going to LUREC, where she was able to identify the areas of environmental science she enjoys the most. Her favorite Loyola experience was participating in the Food Recovery Network as part of the executive committee. She became president of the board in 2021 and helped create consciousness about subjects like food waste and famine. Christina completed her degree last December and is currently a full-time environmental field technician doing environmental assessments on highway construction sites in the Chicago region.  


Brennan McDonald, SES Class of 2022Brennan McDonald

E.O. Wilson Award for Outstanding Performance in Environmental Research

This award recognizes one SES graduating student for outstanding performance in faculty-mentored research. 

Brennan McDonald came to Loyola from Cincinnati, Ohio, to study environmental science and biology. Brennan’s favorite class was a directed readings course about environmental microbiology. In this class, he was able to take an in-depth look at how fungi and bacteria function in natural systems. Some of his fondest memories from his time at Loyola include working as an intern in the biodiesel lab during his senior year and completing a research project focused on eliminating Loyola’s food waste.

After graduation, Brennan plans to work before pursuing graduate school. He is not sure of his work plans yet, but he is certain that his ultimate goal is to work in the environmental sustainability sector and contribute to better stewardship of our planet.   


Carly Fournier, SES Class of 2022Carly Fournier 

Lee Botts Award for Environmental Stewardship

The recipient of this award has demonstrated excellence in environmental stewardship.  

Carly Fournier, a US Navy veteran from Boston, Massachusetts, majored in environmental studies and will continue at Loyola in the SES dual-degree master’s program next year. Carly found her love of avian fauna while taking a class on ornithology at LUREC. She also said that Eco-Spirituality was one of her favorite classes because this is where she learned “how to turn hope into action.” Some of Carly’s favorite experiences at Loyola include being part of the habitat restoration work at LUREC since 2018 and meeting people like Dr. Roberta Lammers and Ray Goder. They provided endless guidance and motivation throughout her years at SES.

After finishing her graduate program next year, Carly will go to Puerto Maldonado, Peru, for a year of service at the Inkaterra Association research facility. While in Peru, she will conduct research and work on biodiversity conservation projects for avian species.  


Anastassiya Butrin, SES Class of 2022Anastassiya Butrin

Hazel M. Johnson Award for Outstanding Graduate Student

This award goes to an outstanding SES graduate student who has demonstrated excellence both academically and in service of a greater good. 

Anastassiya Butrin completed a master’s degree in environmental science and sustainability. She is originally from Almaty, Kazakhstan. Anastassiya’s favorite class during her time at Loyola was Sustainability Plan Development and Reporting. Even though it proved to be one of the most intense classes she has ever taken, she said it offered a tremendous amount of knowledge and practical skills. Anastassiya is thankful for all the support she received from the SES faculty and her peers. 

In her words, “I’m grateful to the Office of Sustainability for providing me with an opportunity to get a hands-on experience by working on campus, to all of my professors who went above and beyond in sharing their knowledge, and to my incredible classmates whose experience was eye-opening and educating.”  

In her future career, Anastassiya plans to find a job where she can help companies improve their performance in sustainability and reduce their negative impact on the planet.