“I’ve always been interested in science,” said Jayson Toweh, a University of Michigan undergraduate senior, majoring in the Program in the Environment (PitE) with minors in Energy Science and Policy and Science, Technology and Society. “As I became older, I became interested and invested in humanitarian and service work.”
Toweh came to college knowing he wanted to work to improve the lives of others. And over the last four years, he’s devoted himself wholeheartedly to environmentalism and service.
“I’ve done a lot,” Toweh laughed. “I was a big planner for the Michigan Climate March. That was really cool because I got to see it grow from an idea to a march of over 850 people.”
Toweh is involved with multiple students groups, including the Student Sustainability Initiative, Students for Clean Energy, and the Central Student Government, where he acts as Chair of their Sustainability Commission.
“The last few months, I planned a climate policy lecture that had a very large attendance,” Toweh said. “It was very cool to see a huge amount of students that cared about climate change.”
In addition to students, professors from multiple different departments attended and spoke to the importance of policy in climate change. The event was covered by The Michigan Daily.
Toweh is also involved in the Central Student Government Sustainability Commission, which is currently working to mitigate the environmental effects of tailgating at fraternity houses. In addition to educating fraternity members about this initiative, Toweh and others help ensure that recyclable materials don’t end up in the trash.
“We supply the fraternities with the bags and we discuss with their fraternity members what we’re doing,” Toweh explained. “We do the sorting, pick up the bags in trucks, go to the waste service building on North Campus and sort the recyclable materials.”
In his professional career, Toweh is equally driven towards effecting change. Last summer, he had the opportunity to travel to Ghana and do direct public health work.
“I got to talk to people about the health problems they have,” Toweh said. “I really liked that experience.”
Recently, he’s been getting more involved in environmental policy and would like to go to graduate school to study environmental health. He’s interested in working with federal agencies and getting involved in international non-profit work, related to public health issues.
“I’ve been lucky enough to intern for the EPA Ann Arbor office,” said Toweh. “I started in the summer of 2015, came back in the summer of 2016 and I’ve been there since then.”
Through his internship experiences, Toweh has been able to see the inside of U.S. environmental policy. He worked on the SmartWay program, a government partnership with freight industries.
“Trucking companies will voluntarily put fuel efficient equipment and optimize their routes, so with Smartway, they save fuel and also emit less, and in turn save money and get public recognition,” said Toweh. “It’s cool to see environmental entities and businesses working towards common goals.”
Toweh then described some of the classes at U-M that have contributed to his success. He was especially enthusiastic about Environment 211, Social Sciences and Environmental Problems.
“That class was really influential because that basically jump-started my work in environmental organizations,” said Toweh. “I worked on sustainable laundry practices, and the end result was that we got all the laundry signs updated to the recommendations that we’d made.”
Toweh emphasized the importance of being deliberate and taking initiative in professional and academic spheres.
“You’d be surprised at all the stuff you could accomplish,” said Toweh. “I didn’t think as a senior I’d be able to be on the SSI board, the president of the club, and leading another club while I have an internship. If you have the passion for doing something, I say do it. When you look back, you’ll be really proud of it.”