Alumnus helping empower communities impacted by environmental injustice
By: Dean Glorioso
Alumnus Bernard Harrigan earned his Associate in Arts degree from Palm Beach State College in spring 2021. An active member of the campus community, he served as vice president of Community Earth and president pro tempore of the Palm Beach Gardens campus. A student in the Dr. Floyd F. Koch Honors College and member of Phi Theta Kappa, Harrigan represented students on the College Affordability Task Force and Quality Enhancement Plan Development Team and provided guidance through the Inter Club Council.
A disabled veteran, Harrigan has interned with local constituencies to use the power of cultural expression to empower communities impacted by environmental injustice. His goal is to work in the environmental justice field as a community change agent to promote climate change resiliency and seek environmentally focused funding through state and federal grant programs for the Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities in South Florida.
Today, Harrigan is an environmental justice and social change major at Florida Atlantic University’s Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, passionate about using diplomacy to engage BIPOC communities in climate change action plans. He was named a 2022 Udall Scholar for his work in conservation issues and was selected as a Leon Charney Diplomacy Research Fellow, receiving Outstanding Delegate recognition at the National Model United Nations. At the NMUN, his Chinese aquaculture and sustainable food systems policies aided his team to achieve first place twice in one academic year, a NMUN first.
On Jan. 19, 2023, at Palm Beach State’s Duncan Theatre on the Lake Worth campus, PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D., recognized Harrigan with the 2023 Martin Luther King, Jr. Alumni Leadership Award. During his time, Dr. King asked one of life’s most enduring questions, “What are you doing for others?”
In his own words, Harrigan is carrying out this vital message, “To have Palm Beach State recognize my efforts means a lot to me. I’m not just trying to succeed according to my goals; I’m also trying to succeed in the eyes of my mentors and peers. It’s always good to have someone to inspire you.” Harrigan and his work are already inspiring those around him, clearly with what he is doing for others.
In recognition of Palm Beach State College’s 90th anniversary, the weekly Alumni Spotlight Series showcases the College’s role in preparing generations of graduates to achieve success in myriad careers and give back to their local communities.