Ivory Vogt graduated from WWU in 2017 with a degree in international communication. She also holds a master's in Tourism, Environment, and Development from Kings College London. She currently works as the program manager for climate and resilience at Sustainable Travel International and holds a variety of volunteer positions.
I discovered my passion for service and international development when I was the director of the ASWWU’s Global Service team. From 2016–2017 we organized events and campaigns to raise money to allow Congolese refugees to complete their secondary education in Rwandan Adventist high schools. I had the best time fundraising and planning events with a team of five other students. I got to travel to Rwanda with other ASWWU leaders and together we interviewed students, visited refugee camps, and visited schools in order to really understand the issues they faced. This experience made it apparent to me that whatever work I did after graduation had to be in service to others and have a real, positive impact on people’s lives.
This summer I had the chance to participate in the United Nations’ Ocean Conference and its Youth Innovation Forum. This event brought together more than 150 young people to create innovative solutions to ocean climate challenges in only 24 hours. While other groups of young advisors focused on solutions related to sustainable seafood or plastic pollution, our group had the winning idea for ocean renewable energy. We were inspired by the energy problems facing small island developing states and developed a floating solar panel system we called SUNREEF. The best part, however, was collaborating with passionate and inspiring youth who are taking climate action seriously.
After the kickoff event, I stayed for the rest of the Ocean Conference as a delegate from Palau, which is my home county. Islanders like to call themselves large ocean states because our ocean is and always has been a significant part of our lives, particularly as Pacific Islanders. There is a lot of traditional knowledge that we can use to conserve our environment. My passion for climate action and its impact on our oceans is so closely tied to my home. Being able to celebrate Palau’s commitment to end deep seabed mining, explore blue carbon solutions, and continue to advocate for ocean conservation was a huge honor.
And the work is not over! I currently work full-time for Sustainable Travel International as their program manager for climate and resilience. I work every day with travel businesses and tourist destinations to take climate action. The tourism industry is a huge source of income for many islands and strengthening that industry in a climate-positive way will make tourism in islands a positive force for change. A huge part of my job is running carbon footprint assessments for organizations, which allows them to reduce emissions and offset those they can’t. The offsetting of emissions encourages businesses to invest in the environment and renewable energy solutions.
My work with carbon markets has allowed me to continue to support Palau's U.N. and climate change office at these various international events. I will be a Climate Youth Negotiator for Palau at the upcoming COP27 Climate Change Conference in Egypt. As a Palau negotiator, I’ll be helping in meetings specifically relating to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement to ensure the development of carbon markets that are transparent and fair to all parties involved and have real impact.
I feel blessed to have had so many experiences and to now be able to work for a cause that is so dear to my heart. One can take many paths to fulfill our life’s purpose, but I would say focus on the path where you can have the most impact. For me and my love for Palau, this path is continually weaving across the world, but the ethos remains the same. My love of my work blended with my responsibility to act keep me going.
I would encourage students to lean into their liberal arts education by learning about what is going on in the world, discovering their passions, and taking advantage of all the opportunities WWU offers outside of studies. All the volunteer work I did both locally and internationally during college is what gave me my start. And along the way, I keep being inspired by the spirit of service that Jesus exemplifies—of helping others, of protecting our communities and the world.