Editor's note: In the last week in April, Director Dot Harris of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity gathered alongside local energy leaders at Clark Atlanta University for the Atlanta Students in Energy and Climate Forum. Mary Shoemaker, a rising senior at Georgia Tech, was one of the student speakers at the event. The following is her perspective of the event.
On a beautiful afternoon in April, I found myself surrounded by like-minded individuals: students, entrepreneurs, and professors gathered to share experiences and motivations in their pursuit of environmental stewardship. Having heard about the event from a peer, I jumped at this rare opportunity to share my story and to connect with people I had so much in common with. The event was unique because of the array of sectors that were represented: governmental, non-profit, private, and academia. Hearing from Dot Harris was another eye-opener, emphasizing the extent to which energy efficiency, climate knowledge, and the environmental advocacy transcend cultural and economic boundaries.
This event also highlighted the importance of collaboration in tackling issues concerning communities and our society at large. On Georgia Tech’s campus, my primary goal has been to unite people who are planning and implementing projects that help the environment in any way. It is rare that such alliances can be extended beyond individuals of the same community, so speaking with students at Clark Atlanta University reiterated within me the vast potential that lies within these budding relationships.
Over the course of this past year, my interest in environmental policy has focused increasingly on energy. As most of us can agree, environmental issues are too often politically stigmatized to the point of inaction. Contention over solutions bleeds into delineation of the fundamental problems. Energy efficiency, however, is a goal that players across the political spectrum can value. Through opportunities such as this event hosted by the Department of Energy and Clark Atlanta University, students meet allies and role models who help shape our studies and our careers. Thank you to the students and administration of Clark Atlanta University and the Department of Energy for planning this fantastic event.