Recycle, Rebuild, Renew

Justin McCarty '15

Photo courtesy of Nick Bailey '16.

Justin McCarty '15 

If there’s something you need to build or fix, Justin McCarty ’15 can probably help. As manager of Dickinson’s Student Handiwork for Organized Projects (SHOP), he’s learned and taught basic carpentry, metalworking and simple home repairs; he’s even outfitted his apartment with metal furniture he crafted. Justin also supported initiatives to bring more bike racks and air pumps to campus and helped organize the college’s first student sustainability symposium last spring. His latest projects include constructing an on-campus solar-charging station and outfitting the Dog House with solar heat. After graduation, he plans to channel his resourcefulness and energy into an entrepreneurial career.


Environmental studies and economics.

Clubs and organizations:

Center for Sustainability Education (renewable-energy intern), Dickinson biodiesel (intern), Idea Fund, SHOP (manager), Reinvest Dickinson, Student Senate, theatre tech shop, College Farm (volunteer), Outing Club, Treehouse (Center for Sustainable Living) events, Social Justice House and The Peddler coffee cart (avid customer/supporter).

Favorite book:

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

Favorite movie:

American Psycho.

On choosing Dickinson:

I transferred to Dickinson from Duquesne University. I made the decision to transfer from Duquesne in the middle of my freshman year, and I toured Dickinson on my own on a cold, rainy day in March. I loved the feel of the campus and also fell in love with Carlisle. After researching Dickinson’s programs and philosophies, I made my decision.

On choosing a major:

Initially, I had my heart set on law school, but after I came to Dickinson I began to realize that I wasn’t meant to be a lawyer and probably would not enjoy it. I then switched to economics and environmental science.

Favorite place on campus:

The porch of the International House. That is where I found my first Dickinson family.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Local grass-fed burgers. I have been known to eat upwards of five or six in one meal.

Favorite learning experience:

Connecting in-class work with unconventional learning experiences, like volunteering at the College Farm, working with the facilities-management department on [renewable-energy] projects and getting my hands dirty at the biodiesel plant. I have been exposed to so much [through these experiences]. It's allowed me to think more deeply about sustainability and draw connections that I couldn't have reached solely from what I've learned from books.

Favorite professor:

Hands down, Associate Professor [of Physics] Hans Pfister. His enthusiasm for life is contagious. He is an amazing teacher and guide. He helped me build a robust base for my love of renewable energy and continues to teach me whenever I interact with him.

As a kid, I wanted to be …

… an astronaut, then a Navy fighter pilot and, later, an architect or lawyer. Now I want to be an entrepreneur.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:

Always be skeptical—not in the sense of being wary of others, but in the sense of basing your opinions on information that was gathered in an objective and scientific manner.

If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …

… Betty White.

Proudest accomplishment:

The bamboo fence at the farm that I helped build one summer with other students, and the boat we built for the “Anything Floats” race in Boiling Springs [Pa.].

A perfect world…

… would be free of fossil fuels.

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Published October 6, 2014