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A group of students is leading the charge in an international competition that seeks to make a big impact through small steps.

Since this fall, more than one hundred students have joined a competition called Small Steps, Big Wins, where undergraduates on campus compete against their peers from other schools to complete social and environmental actions.

UT is currently in first place among forty-eight other schools worldwide.

Scoring is based on doing small, environmentally friendly acts like unplugging electronic items or going vegetarian for a day. New point-gaining activities are posted online each week, and there are tracks for people with different interests, like volunteering or education reform.

Alyssa Schroder, a senior in sustainability, said UT is one of the largest schools in the top ten and the only highly ranked school that didn’t participate last semester. She and fellow senior Jacob Arbital are the campus directors for Small Steps, Big Wins. She is also the UT president of Net Impact, the group that started the Small Steps, Big Wins initiative.

“We’re the Volunteers,” Schroder said. “It would be kind of embarrassing for us not to win.”

She pointed out that some students hesitate to get involved on campus because they think it’s difficult.

“People don’t want to do something that isn’t easy,” she said. “And this is so easy.”

Winning schools do get prizes such as gift cards and travel, but Schroder points out that environmental and social awareness are the main goals.

She quoted Arbital as saying, “We’re all competing, but the environment wins in the end.”

The competition lasts through April.

To get involved, contact Alyssa Schroder at or register at the Small Steps, Big Wins website.

Net Impact is sponsored by the Alcoa Foundation and Microsoft.

C O N T A C T :

Alyssa Schroder (

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460,