Following his 2012 Cheney High School graduation, Kevin Robinson spent the majority of his time traversing the country and world. Though Robinson was an average student in high school, pursuing a college education didn’t hold appeal, since school was always about going through the motions.
“I was to that point with it,” Robinson said. “High school, the process, was not enjoyable to me. Not difficult, no social problems or anything. I just didn’t care for it, to be honest.”
Robinson was exploring the Balkans five years ago, and what he saw in Železnička, in North Macedonia, caused a paradigm shift: a man leaning against a door on the corner of Bojovica Boulevard, coughing and choking while passersby went about business as usual. Robinson froze, unsure what to do, and witnessed the man die.
“Their cavalier attitudes were so repulsive to me because I couldn’t understand how they could just walk by,” Robinson said. “I realized it’s because it’s nothing new, they’ve seen it before, and I didn’t like that. I figured this is probably not unique. I’m probably unique because this doesn’t happen in my life. But for so many, this probably is just the way you live, and then you die.”
Robinson realized he could no longer be complacent, bouncing from one place to the next. He wanted to build a better world, but from what vantage, he was unsure. He considered social work, but concluded he didn’t have the patience. Most at home outdoors, Robinson primarily funded his way from one place to another working recreation like ski resorts or construction gigs, though he doesn’t want to give the impression that he was a Jack Kerouac type.
“It’s not like I was every week somewhere new,” Robinson said. “There were times where it was like that, but I don’t want to kind of give this illusion that I was always tramping around.”
He decided tackling global climate change was his best route. The man dying wasn’t solely what disturbed him, but also the scene the man died in: dreary, dirty, gray. People deserve better, he said.
“I love animals, I love the natural world,” said Robinson, who volunteers as a trail cam lead for the Canadian Lynx with Conservation Northwest. “So I thought if this planet were healthy, well then, those things, us, everything that inhabits it, will be healthier.”
With those goals in mind, Robinson returned to Spokane with renewed focus to pursue higher education so he could better position himself to be part of the fight. He decided to enroll at Spokane Falls Community College so he could boost his grade-point average while knocking out general education classes for a four-year program.
Robinson is graduating with a direct transfer of science biology degree, and is currently deciding between acceptances from Gonzaga University and University of Washington, in pursuit of his undergraduate degree in biology. Though he’s the first to admit he doesn’t have the science background to pin down his research topic quite yet, he’s been brainstorming possibilities.
“What I really want to know is how photosynthesis has been stymied by efficiency,” Robinson said. “So my question is, how could we potentially work with existing photosynthetic mechanisms in nature to increase carbon input acquisition from the environment, while still having healthy plants and a happy world?”
Robinson has been a leader on campus, first working as Associated Student Body outdoor programmer, and eventually taking the position of ASB president when the student who previously held the position, Sarah Torres, graduated early.
“Kevin was the perfect candidate for that,” Torres said. “After just observing throughout the year what a great worker he was, and what an awesome heart he has, and he also just stepped up to the plate and filled in the spot.”
He wanted to light a spark at Spokane Falls Community College, so more people would become invested in saving the planet. Though his position in student government prevented him from leading the Environmental Club outright, he drew interest on the campus, and provided fellow students the tools they needed to see the club become a reality.
Even though school became virtual and meetings on campus became impossible, Robinson saw it through, while still tackling his rigorous academic regimen with flying colors.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.