Class of 2014: Chris Lower

B.A. Environmental Studies, B.A. Sustainable Urban Development, 2014 Chancellor's Medal Finalist

Chris Lower, B.A. Environmental Studies, 2014 Chancellor's Medal Finalist“I was a sullen teen. I wasn’t very mature. I did enough to get by.”

This is how Chris Lower describes his high school career. He was born in Tacoma, but moved south and attended North Thurston High School in Lacey, Wash.

Chris is a first-generation college student. He’s an adopted only-child whose parents were themselves raised on farms in rural Washington. When he graduated from high school, he started work immediately, getting a job at The Olympian newspaper in Washington’s capital city, as a mid-level circulation manager. This was before the “news revolution” broke the print newspaper business model.

Chris thought he had “beat the system,” getting onto a career track straight out of high school. But he was working 60-70 hours per week. He had unlimited aspirations – he wanted to become a newspaper publisher, the top job. He asked the Olympian publisher what it would take. The answer? A four-year degree.

Today, Lower says that “education is an experiential process: the sum of interactions and experiences.” As he worked his way through community college and then UW Tacoma, he discovered a passion for environmental science and ecology. He created his own study-abroad experience in India and he helped found the UW Tacoma chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, a national honor society. He got involved with UW Tacoma’s Project Earth student organization, and worked on the Giving Garden. He went down the street and worked with kids at the Tacoma School of the Arts.

He’s a passionate advocate for environmental justice, and aspires to teach environmental studies at the college level. He’s considering a master’s or a Ph.D. at Evergreen State College or at Portland State University. He’s definitely no longer a sullen teen.

Section: 
Written: 
June 11, 2014
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, Advancement, johnbjr@uw.edu or 253-692-4536