On 10 November, Commonwealth Shared Scholar Jeremiah Thoronka was awarded the inaugural Chegg.org Global Student Prize for his innovative work on clean energy solutions for communities and schools in Sierra Leone. The award was presented by actor Hugh Jackman during a virtual ceremony broadcast from the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

Headshot of Jeremiah Thoronka

Commonwealth Shared Scholar Jeremiah Thoronka

The Global Student Prize 2021

This new award, twinned with the Global Teacher Prize, recognises the exceptional talents of students whose impact on learning and on the lives of their peers and wider society has been transformative. Selected from over 3,500 nominations across 94 countries, this year the 10 finalists included students making an impact in equality and justice, health and wellbeing, education, youth empowerment, and ending poverty.

The winner of the Global Student Prize is awarded a prize sum as well as the chance to become involved in national and international policy discussions and global networks affecting student education.

Reducing fuel poverty through clean energy

Jeremiah’s first-hand experience of fuel poverty in Sierra Leone led to his interest in climate action and his development of an innovative device that harnesses kinetic energy from vehicles and pedestrians to produce electric current without the need for battery storage.

Having launched his start-up company, Optim Energy, at the age of 17 whilst studying at the African Leadership University in Rwanda, Jeremiah led a successful pilot scheme in northern Sierra Leone to provide free electricity to around 1,500 citizens and 9,000 school-age students.

Currently studying for a Master’s in Sustainable Energy and Development at Durham University, Jeremiah plans to build on this success by expanding the remit of Optim Energy into healthcare, where energy continuity is greatly needed for medicine storage and powering machinery and lighting for treating patients. With the award money from the Global Student Prize, Jeremiah’s aim is for Optim Energy to reach 100,000 people by 2030.

Beyond COP26

Following the COP26 Summit in Glasgow, Jeremiah’s success highlights the important contributions that Commonwealth Scholars and Alumni are making to act on climate change and develop sustainable solutions to to support communities affected by climate change.

To find out how Commonwealth Scholars are making a difference in other areas of climate research, read our climate action profile series on the CSC website.

You can also watch Jeremiah receiving the Global Student Prize 2021 earlier this month on Facebook Watch now.