Jordan Garrett '20

Geography and Sustainability Majors
Jordan Garrett with Andrew Coppens, assistant professor of education

College choice stories could be their own literary sub-genre, involving as they often do dramatic decisions and “what ifs” we never forget.

Jordan Garrett had her moment of decision while driving back to her hometown of Portsmouth, N.H., after visiting a pricey university she was considering along with UNH. “As we came down Route 4 near Great Bay, I suddenly realized I simply couldn’t afford the other school. At the time, I felt disappointed. But looking back, I feel like I’ve had ten times the opportunities for things at UNH compared to my friends who’ve attended private universities. And most of my opportunities have either paid me or paid for me.”

A geography and sustainability dual major, Jordan recalls sitting in her Intro to Climate class when Professor Andrew Coppens strode into the room and wondered aloud who would be interested in participating in a cultural exchange program paid for by the U.S. Department of State?

Faster than you could say “Bhutan,” Jordan’s hand shot up and, before she knew it, she and several other students were en route to Bhutan where they worked with students from Royal Thimphu College, interviewing people in both Bhutan and, later, Vermont about changes they were seeing in their environment due to climate change.

“The experience was life-changing,” says Jordan. “I was able to combine my love for environmental issues and social science, work with some of the most intelligent people I’d ever met in professors Coppens and Sameer Honwad, and travel to the Himalayas on a grant to interact with locals and understand their views on climate change.”

A UNH grant from the Emeriti Council enabled Jordan to do another study abroad trip, to Goa, India, where she taught high schoolers how to make podcasts about the environment from interviews with people in their community — the kind of thing Jordan learned how to do in Bhutan. “We helped them figure out what kinds of stories they wanted to tell, how to interview people, and how to use recording and editing equipment.”

Back on campus, Jordan worked as an intern for the Sustainability Institute, helping students in the residence halls reduce their waste, energy consumption and water use. She also served as the coordinator and business manager for the Student Environmental Action Coalition and is currently the coalition’s Solarfest coordinator. “Many of my best memories at UNH are due to this organization and the many amazing people in it.”

When she graduates as the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree, Jordan hopes to build on her diverse undergraduate experiences to learn more about the societal impacts of climate change and to teach others. Her first post-grad stop will be Yellowstone National Park, where she will be working as a park ranger this summer.