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September 2011 Issue

Gainesville State College (GSC) Student Selected for National Leadership Program
Tom Torres

Gainesville State College (GSC) Student Selected for National Leadership Program

Recognized as one of the nation’s top rising young leaders in the clean energy sector by national organization Focus the Nation, Tom Torres is one of 20 students from across the country who were selected for their dedication, passion, and unique contribution to increasing clean energy in America.

The young leaders—five each in the categories of Technician, Innovator, Politico, and Storyteller—will meet for one week on Oregon’s Mt. Hood at the ReCharge! Retreat to viscerally experience an area of the country where energy is accelerating toward renewables.

During the August 21 – 26 Retreat, Torres and the other participants will hike Elliot Glacier, which has experienced 60 percent snowpack loss since 1982; tour the Boardman Coal Plant, scheduled to close by 2020; and visit Biglow Canyon Wind Farm, which powers 125,000 homes in Oregon.

Torres is from Cornelia, GA and is studying Environmental Studies. Despite showing a strong interest in studies and policy, Torres will be attending as a Technician, due to his experience in spatial analysis. “I want to be able to immerse myself with other young people who are undergoing many of the same difficulties that I am facing right now,” says Torres. “I want to be a better leader and I know this can help me in innumerable ways.”

Focus the Nation created ReCharge! in collaboration with The Center for Whole Communities to address the need for rising leaders to approach energy challenges with innovative ideas and fortitude throughout their careers.

When Torres is not studying Environmental Studies at GSC, he is looking for ways to improve the lives of others and the environment. An avid user of social networking including Twitter, Torres is constantly reaching out to others in an effort to learn more about social justice and environmental issues.

When Torres started taking classes at GSC in 2008, he had plans to study Journalism. “I took one of the environmental studies classes that Margi Flood taught, and I was hooked. I got involved in the Students for Progressive Society Club and the Environmental Awareness Club to explore ways that I could become a leader and make a difference.”

“Tom’s intelligence and enthusiasm are far beyond his years,” commented Margi Flood, GSC Assistant Professor of Biology. “I am so impressed by his social commitment and the fact that he gives of his own time to work on projects that will benefit others.” Even Torres’ class projects have a service learning/community outreach component. “My most recent project involved a solar panel suitability study of the GSC campus to document the College’s solar capacity.” Torres has also worked with the Redbud Project to study green space in Hall County.

“I grew up on my family’s farm in Habersham County, and I have a real connection with the environment and how important it is for us to be good stewards of our resources while maintaining social justice. It is my goal to use my knowledge and abilities to promote social justice for populations who have been under represented even in our own area, said Torres.

As part of the requirement for participation in the Retreat, Torres has one year from his return to create and implement a clean energy project in the community from the ground up. “While we have a few ideas, I would like to do something with the minority communities in Hall County. Being a Latino, that intersection has always interested me,” Torres explains. “Often times, these populations do not have access to information about environmental issues and they are not included in the dialog, even though they are the ones primarily affected. This project would dually protect the environment and support social justice.”

Torres plans to share information about his experiences during the Retreat through Twitter. He invites followers who are interested to follow him @_floatingworld.

Focus the Nation is a national nonprofit that supports rising leaders in launching careers that accelerate the transition to clean energy. Since 2008, the organization has helped more 300,000 young people engage in direct dialogue with business and elected leaders around energy solutions. For more information about Focus the Nation and ReCharge!, visit www.focusthenation.org or contact Anne Bertucio at anne@focusthenation.org.

Posted by Sonja Roberts on September 29, 2011
Published in: Students on Campus

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