Career profile: Kevin Thatcher Gerike ('12), Xavier High School

May 15, 2015

In an effort to give our current students a look at the opportunities that await them after graduation, we reached out to a few graduates to check in on the many ways the Nelson Institute helped shape them into the employees, alumni and leaders they are today. View the full series of career profiles here

Kevin Thatcher Gerike graduated in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in environmental studies and landscape architecture. 

Nelson Institute: Please provide an overview of your current position.

Thatcher Gerike: I am currently a teacher at Xavier High School on the island of Weno in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia (and am considering accepting the Dean of Students position for the next school year). I teach a range of science courses – environmental science, marine science, earth science, food and gardening, and I have also taught chemistry.

I also started and continue working with Earth Council, a youth environmental organization on campus. We have done a lot of activities, cleanups, conferences, and events over the last three years. As of last year we were able to get every high school to create environmental clubs and created an island-wide Chuuk Earth Council.

How do you feel attending UW as a student in the Nelson Institute prepared you for this work?

At the Nelson Institute I was able to take courses that allowed me to continue to explore my love of the environment and that affirmed the necessity to maintain our connection to nature. It is easy for people to get wrapped up in their daily lives of consumption and forget every choice they make will directly impact Earth. I feel my education at the UW and the Nelson Institute helped to form a strong environmental mind and a strong will to aid our society in becoming sustainable.

"It is easy for people to
get wrapped up in their
daily lives of consumption
and forget every choice they
make will directly impact Earth.
I feel my education at the UW
and the Nelson Institute helped
to form a strong environmental
mind and a strong will to aid our
society in becoming sustainable."

Not only that, but taking a course with Cal DeWitt was also an eye-opening and moving experience. He has a way of engaging students and filling them with life that no other professor I had before (or after) has been able to. He loves everything about life and the world around us, and I think it was him who truly inspired me to devote my life to service and the environment.

How do you apply this knowledge to growing as an employee and a leader in the workplace? 

I use the knowledge I have gained every day in my life; it has formed me into the man I am today. I use it to guide my life and my work... that will never change.

What advice do you have for current Nelson students?

Never take anything with you or from Earth that isn't absolutely necessary.

“Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” -Aldo Leopold

This interview is part of a series conducted by Johanna Wirth, a life sciences communication and environmental studies double major graduating in May 2015.