With a heart for service, integrative studies alum Megan Jade Stoner ('14) saw an opportunity to get involved with her community by entering her name for the Keep the Colony Beautiful chairperson of the board position. The last few years, Stoner had found herself overcome with frustration and pessimism about various issues, which she says is not her true nature.
"I resolved that the best way out of that darkness was to pursue opportunities where I could help make things better and explore the favorability of my ideas," says Stoner, who previously worked as a marketing coordinator and social media manager.
Stoner, whose concentrations as an integrative studies student including linguistics, journalism and sociology, ultimately landed the role as chair. In her position with Keep the Colony Beautiful, Stoner helps with the community's school programs and city-wide events. Stoner wants to implement district-wide clothing swaps before the summer break each year, with clothing donations accepted year-round and sorted at the end. The clothes would be divided by the number of participating students.
"This would alleviate pressure on those who don't have much to donate, and also provide a convenient and easy way to purge abundance by sending donations with your child to school," she says.
She hopes to aid her community with circularity and by implementing functional, cost-saving programs with true sustainability in mind." Circularity, Stoner says, refers to a lifestyle that incorporates reusing, recycling, upcycling, and paying mind not only to the origins of an item but its destiny as well.
"I work really hard separating my recyclable items -- washing them, drying them, making sure the cardboard is broken down and that no plastic bags are within my haul," she says. "I drive to another town to take my glass jars to the farmer's market where they reuse them."
Stoner is not only involved with her community, but also with the global social movement Fashion Revolution USA. The idea of Fashion Revolution USA was born from the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013, in which more than a thousand workers died after the Dhaka garment factory collapsed due to structural failure. Fashion Revolution USA works to spread awareness and promote change within the manufacturing industry by pressing large companies to be transparent about who makes their products. Stoner became involved because of 20 years of experience in making clothes for fun, events and fashion shows. After learning fashion is one of the highest-polluting industries due to materials waste, she launched Thryfted, an upcycling program.
"No piece of clothing belongs in the landfill," Stoner says. "No piece of clothing is cute or cool enough to warrant the use of modern-day slavery. No piece of clothing is worth our dignity as a human race, not as the garment creator and not as the consumer. If I can affect even one other person's thinking on how they move through the world, then that would mean I have made a positive difference."
On Choosing UNT:
I moved back to Texas from California as I dropped out of school the summer before my last semester at University of California – Santa Barbara to help my mom as she fell very ill. I spent years in a customer-facing position as a guerrilla marketing specialist and I chose to apply to UNT, once the Linguistics program was established, because I wanted to make sure I had skills beyond being a people-person. I ended up focusing more on journalism. As a transfer student I had many credits that were able to fit within the integrative studies major, concentrating on linguistics, sociology and journalism.
Linguistics represents my desire to understand language and sociology helped me understand people, specifically how and why we interact with one another and the way we work within society. Journalism fueled my craving to illustrate all of this through storytelling. All of these disciplines intersect in a very full way and have contributed to my job and life skill sets.
UNT's Mayborn School of Journalism was superior. Michelle Redmond, a senior lecturer who taught broadcast journalism, made a significant impact on me while a student. She convinced me that I was capable of being an on-camera personality. She was so tough, and so brilliant, with a voice that demanded attention. I absorbed as much as I possibly could in her classes and think about her and how she made me feel to this day.
Skills for Success:
Social media was where I began my career. My skills in copywriting, ad creation, data analysis, and my curiosity helped me get to my current position. Marketing helps me use both sides of my brain.
My advice for future generations is to pursue opportunities for education. We are in a new Renaissance period where anything you might want to learn is at your fingertips. Don't delay your pursuit of knowledge, and never end it either. Your degree can be valuable, but you will be responsible for applying what you know and pursuing what you don't know, and that is a journey that never ends.