Release Date: 
Thursday, June 25, 2020

HawkPride: cum laude graduate named Outstanding Biology Student of the Year

John Jaranson is one of two HFC students to be named Outstanding Biology Student of the Year. He will transfer to Michigan State University.
John Jaranson is one of two HFC students to be named Outstanding Biology Student of the Year. He will transfer to Michigan State University.

Recent HFC graduate John Jaranson was surprised to learn that he was one of two students to be named Outstanding Biology Student of the Year and to receive the Outstanding Biology Student of the Year Award (The other student is Rafael Cortes). He also earned the HFC Outstanding Biology Student Award for $500.

“I'm glad I was able to leave such a positive impression on my professors. I'm honored I was given the award,” said Jaranson, of Dearborn, who earned his associate degree in environmental studies and graduated cum laude from HFC in late 2019.

Jaranson explained why he’s passionate about the environment, particularly climate change.

“The struggle against climate change, more than anything else, drew me to the sciences – to environmental studies, specifically,” he said. “I had little concrete idea of what to study until I decided to focus on something I really cared about, which in turn helped me narrow my focus into the fields I’ll be pursuing at a university later this year. Hopefully, when I’ve completed my education, I’ll be able to help fight climate change, even if it’s only a single drop against the tide.”

Excelling at HFC

Although he attended Fordson High School and Edsel Ford High School – both part of the Dearborn Public Schools – Jaranson dropped out and earned his GED in 2011. He first came to HFC because he lives within walking distance of the College and was often biking around the campus and the bike trails on the outskirts. The in-district tuition made it affordable.

Then, he found his real reason for attending... and a path for his life.

“I definitely liked my science classes the most at HFC, particularly my biology and chemistry classes and – though I only took one class in this area – atmospheric science,” said Jaranson. “Generally speaking, if the classes had crossover with ecology and climate change, it was interesting to me. Ms. (Linda) Brandt and Dr. (Mary) Parekunnel were my favorite professors at HFC. I took multiple classes with both of them, and I was glad the last class for my associate degree, BIO 150, was taught by them."

“John’s passion for the natural environment and humble attitude to life are unparalleled among students of his age,” said Parekunnel.

Transferring to MSU

This fall, Jaranson will transfer to Michigan State University, where he will major in geological sciences and civil engineering.

“I hope to conduct my own research on ground water management during that time, especially as it pertains to irrigation and crop growth,” said Jaranson.

He decided to go to MSU because of recommendations from his professors at HFC and speaking to people working in fields related to environmental science and ecology. MSU began as an agricultural school, offering many classes related to horticulture, soil science, and plant biology.

“I'd like to design and construct infrastructure in water management,” said Jaranson. “My hope is to find ways to improve food security nationally and – ideally – globally. Crop losses will only increase as the climate continues to warm and change and fresh water resources dwindle. So I'd like to do whatever I can to mitigate those losses. And I'd love to run my own 100-acre permaculture farm one day.”

Call to action

"John excels in academics, both lecture and lab,” said Brandt. “He is dedicated to improving our environment. With his leadership and interpersonal communication skills, in addition to scientific literacy, I believe he will succeed in improving the environment for all of us.”

According to Jaranson, people who are passionate about climate change and saving the environment need to excel in the sciences. They will be the ones who save the environment.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that politicians and corporations have little interest in stemming the tide of climate change. That means it will be up to individuals, families, and communities to equip themselves with the knowledge and skills to increase the resilience of the natural systems we all rely on. That means changes like locally grown food, reduction of fossil fuels, tighter knit communities, and reduction in consumption, along with a long list of other changes.”

Jaranson continued: “To implement those changes effectively, communities will need scientists. These efforts will be stalwart lights against the encroaching darkness. I've found that concrete action makes a difference. If you're worried about the future, join the fight and do what you can to save what can be saved and to protect those who will inherit this earth. You'll feel better for it, and it will help ward off the night a little longer.”