Student Helps University Save Energy and Money One Light Bulb at a Time
It’s easy to spot Drew Hodge on campus. He’s the guy with the ginger beard, usually seen climbing a ladder and replacing old light fixtures with more energy-efficient versions. For a geography major who is specializing in environmental studies, Hodge’s internship with Weber State University’s Energy & Sustainability Office (ESO) has been the perfect fit.
As part of WSU’s coordinated efforts to create a sustainable campus, ESO makes changes with far-reaching impacts. By employing energy upgrades to reduce emissions, implementing water-efficiency projects to prevent wasted and unnecessary water usage, and educating campus and the surrounding community about sustainability practices, ESO prides itself on saving the university money.
Hodge has replaced light fixtures in the Kimball Visual Arts Center, the Technical Education Building, the Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts and the Facilities Management Building. His next task: helping the ESO team install solar panels on the Facilities Management Building and updating the facility’s heating and air-conditioning systems.
When Hodge first heard solar panels were going to be installed on campus, he reached out to associate geography professor Alice Mulder, director of WSU’s Sustainability Practices and Research Center, to find out if he could help. He credits Mulder for securing him an internship with ESO and also thanks the geography program for giving him the tools to excel beyond the classroom.
“I did my research before I decided where I wanted to go and before I chose my major,” Hodge said. He was impressed by Weber State’s geography program, citing the department’s interdisciplinary approach to teaching and environmental studies emphasis. “I was glad to see the program valued the importance of teaching students how human beings impact the planet.”
Like many other students at Weber State, this is not Hodge’s first round with higher education. Hodge attended WSU in 2009 but left the university to provide for his family. After falling on hard times, Hodge determined the best way to give his family the stability it needed would be to return to school. With the support of his wife and children, Hodge came back three years ago.
Hodge credits his family and the faculty in Weber State’s geography department for his academic success. As someone who struggled in junior high and high school, Hodge remarked that it’s been a “huge confidence booster” to have professors who believe in him and recommend him for opportunities. He believes his success at Weber State will continue to be a source of confidence as he pursues his career.
Originally set on working for the Bureau of Land Management, Hodge, who will graduate this spring, is now considering pursuing graduate school to study city or environmental planning. Working in the ESO has given him exposure to a new career that he would not have considered otherwise.
For parents thinking about coming back to school, Hodge said this: “It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. At the end of the day, you can take pride in what you’re doing, your children can see what you’re doing and pull on that when they’re having hard times in school. Financially, it will be rewarding as well.”
To donate to Weber State’s geography department to help fund education for students like Hodge, visit weber.edu/give and select “Other” under “Areas of Support.” Type “Geography Department Scholarship” in the notes section.