Success Story


Back to Success Stories
<< Return to Current Success Stories

Amelang Named Top Young Environmentalist

Jennifer AmelangJennifer Amelang has proven herself to be a champion of environmental issues on the University of St. Thomas campus. Now, the senior Environmental Science major has gained national recognition as an environmental leader. Amelang has been selected as one of the nation’s top rising young leaders in the clean energy sector by the national organization Focus the Nation.

She is one of only 20 students from across the country who were selected for their dedication, passion and unique contribution to increase awareness of clean energy solutions in America. The young leaders will meet for one week from August 21-26 at a retreat on Oregon’s Mt. Hood to experience an area of the country that is rapidly moving toward more renewable energy.

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 the Biglow Canyon Wind Farm, which powers 125,000 homes in Oregon.

“From this retreat, I hope to gain knowledge and awareness of case studies in clean energy,” Amelang said. “Surrounding myself with places, people and organizations that are making positive change in the community will help inspire me to continue making changes in my own community.”

Focus the Nation is a national nonprofit organization that supports rising leaders in launching careers that accelerate the transition to clean energy. Since 2008, the organization has helped more than 300,000 young people engage in direct dialogue with business and elected leaders in the energy industry.

Amelang attributes this recognition and opportunity to her involvement in organizing a clean energy forum and panel discussion on the UST campus last spring and her internship with Focus the Nation.

“My environmental studies professor, Sister Damien Marie Savino, FSE, recommended that I apply for the internship,” Amelang said. “For the internship with Focus the Nation, I organized the event on campus. I enjoyed having the opportunity to communicate my passion about the environment and bringing the Houston environmental community together.

“Planning the event forced me to get out into the community,” she said. “That’s the main purpose of the event is to educate the community. It’s one thing to read about Houston’s environmental community, but actually going out and meeting these professionals was a really amazing opportunity. It helped me to network for my future career.”

Amelang said she chose to attend St. Thomas because she was interested in the Environmental Science and Studies (ESS) degree program. She was also attracted to St. Thomas because her mother is a recent graduate and she was offered the Presidential Scholarship.

“I switched from Environmental Studies to Environmental Science because I wanted to have a more practical background in the sciences. I think the extra science courses will give me a competitive edge in my career,” Amelang said. “I like that the program has a spiritual component and that ESS is one of the most interdisciplinary majors at St. Thomas. You take political science classes, chemistry, biology, theology. You get a better understanding of  how the natural, human and spiritual worlds are all connected.”

In addition to organizing the Focus the Nation event, Amelang has been an environmental leader on campus. She is a member of Envrionmentally Concerned Organization of Students (ECOS); she was part of the Environmental Science Authentic Development and Sustainability class that designed and constructed plans for the UST Community Garden last fall; she volunteers with maintenance and trash cleanup at Japhet Creek; she is the recycling coordinator for America Recycles Day and RecycleMania. Amelang plans to organize another Focus the Nation event on campus this year. After graduation, she plans to apply for environmental graduate programs.

For more information about organizing a Focus the Nation event on the UST campus, contact Jennifer Amelang at Learn more about Focus the Nation at