Dr. Zipangani Vokhiwa (left) testified before the Georgia Senate Outdoor Learning Study Committee during its discussion of the allocation of resources toward outdoor learning initiatives.

ATLANTA – Dr. Zipangani Vokhiwa, professor of science in the College of Professional Advancement, was recently appointed president of the board of directors of the Environmental Education Alliance (EEA).

EEA is a coalition of educators and organizations that rally for the importance of educating individuals of all ages to be aware of the earth around them through environmental literacy and empowerment to protect the earth and its inhabitants.

This mission aligned directly with Dr. Vokhiwa’s passions for environmental science, biology and sustainability, which prompted him to join the organization’s board in 2018.

“I greatly resonate with their aim to ensure every citizen in our community is knowledgeable of their environment. Knowledge is power,” Dr. Vokhiwa said.

He has been able to put his passion to action through participation in various research projects, like Mercer On Mission trips to his home country of Malawi between 2010-2013. These trips supported local communities with environmental sustainability efforts.

These three Mercer On Mission trips were “eye-openers” for those students who traveled to Malawi with Dr. Vokhiwa, he said, and served as true examples of “seeing is believing” as part of their own outdoor learning experiences.

Dr. Vokhiwa was selected to receive a Fulbright Hays Award in 2013 to further support this effort and to collect data for a project, titled “The Interaction of Environment and Culture in Malawi.”

“Research to me is how science can facilitate us to answer certain questions,” Dr. Vokhiwa said. “While we were in Malawi, we studied the quality of water in a community. We found out that some of the water had E. coli, and we wouldn’t have known that if we didn’t go there and do our research.”

Dr. Vokhiwa was also able to contribute to other projects in conjunction with EEA, like its tracking of monarch butterflies and its appeal to the Georgia Senate to increase outdoor learning opportunities and funding to improve state resources to get kids outside and exploring their environment.

Dr. Vokhiwa applies this same mindset in the classroom to encourage his students to immerse themselves in actively making a tangible difference in their surroundings.

“I don’t want to say, ‘Oh, things just happen that way,’’ to my students. Instead, things happen scientifically,” Dr. Vokhiwa said. “I encourage my students to think this way both inside and outside the classroom.”

Due to his dedication to nature and to EEA, as well as his many accomplishments, Dr. Vokhiwa was given the title of president of the board of directors in July.

His presidential duties include leading both the EEA executive committee and the overall board, reaching an agreement on what subjects to advocate for, managing programs and “making the train move forward,” Dr. Vokhiwa said.

Dr. Vokhiwa praises Mercer and the College of Professional Advancement for providing a great support system throughout his 15-year teaching career at the University and for allowing him to make a mark in his home country.

“The Mercer family has been so helpful. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to go back to Malawi three times, and that’s a big deal,” he said. “Without the support of my department chair, my dean and the president of the University, I wouldn’t be where I am now in my 15th year. The support has always been there.”

About the College of Professional Advancement

Mercer University’s College of Professional Advancement is committed to serving post-traditional learners. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary experiences that integrate theory and practice. In addition to providing general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer, the College of Professional Advancement offers degree programs in areas including technology, public safety, public and human services, leadership and administration, health care and liberal arts. Programs are offered on Mercer’s campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as Regional Academic Centers in Douglas County and Henry County, and online. To learn more, visit professionaladvancement.mercer.edu.

Jacqueline Lamothe, a Lilburn native, is a sophomore journalism major and graphic design minor at Mercer University. Jacqueline is a member of the Student Government Association, Leadership Mercer and National Council of Negro Women.