Friday, September 9, 2016 - 10:43am

For St. Simons Island native Jonah Driggers, the ecology of the small island community has instilled a sense of mission that has been shaped by his UGA experiences:

Although I began my freshman year with vague intentions of pursuing a career in business, I always harbored a love of the outdoors that was developed over years of Scouting and working in the garden with my dad. Experiences made possible through the Foundation Fellowship, like taking Modernist Dystopian Literature with David Bradshaw at Oxford University and hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc with two of my best friends, pulled my fledgling environmentalism to the forefront. Upon returning to UGA, I began exploring this new area of interest in earnest.

As part of UGA’s chapter of the Roosevelt Institute Network, I’ve conducted research on the consequences of Georgia’s slow transition to renewable energy and examined methods by which to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and increase installation of renewable energy. I was able to present this work at the 2016 TEDx Student Symposium, fulfilling a dream of speaking at a TED event. During my junior year, I directed our Roosevelt chapter’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, and this year I am coordinating policy development in the energy and environmental arena across Roosevelt’s 130 chapters nationwide.

The knowledge and skills I gained through Roosevelt and my classes in UGA’s geography and ecology departments helped me last summer to land an internship in the Office of Climate Preparedness at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Through the assistance of the Honors in Washington program, I was able to live and work in D.C., sit in on meetings with senior advisers to the president and the heads of federal agencies, and participate in environmental policymaking at the highest levels. Here too I was introduced to the ethical obligations we have to aid communities as they adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change. This is not just an environmental issue, but also carries enormous philosophical and moral implications. 

Very well said and we salute this mindset - a true encapsulation of the ideal to empower students to change the world for the better.