Enhancing Diversity Among the Next Generation of Clean Energy Leaders

A Conversation with Apex’s Ron Brown Scholar, Gregory Perryman

Since day one, Apex has worked to improve the world in which we live—whether that’s decarbonizing our economy, building the energy company of the future, or molding the workforce that will advance it. From Apex’s perspective, the latter is inextricably linked to the success of the company and the industry, which is why Apex prioritizes investing in the next generation of clean energy leaders.

One critical aspect of this work is being intentional about engaging talented undergraduates and graduate students who represent diversity in all its forms.

Advancing this goal, Apex is a leading supporter of the Ron Brown Scholar Program, which is committed to improving the lives of intellectually gifted, community- and public service–minded African Americans by accelerating their progress into impactful leadership roles and opportunities. For the next four years, Apex is sponsoring Gregory Perryman, an outstanding first-year student pursuing a degree at the University of Virginia (UVA) in Apex’s hometown of Charlottesville.

Before even setting foot on grounds at UVA, Perryman had already established a name for himself. In addition to his status as a Ron Brown Scholar, the Ohio native is a Jefferson Scholar and an Echols Scholar—honors bestowed to only 40 students annually and 5% of the incoming undergraduate class, respectively. Beyond the classroom, Perryman is determined to create both an equitable and a sustainable future—values he lived even as a high schooler, founding a climate action team and assuming leadership roles in other organizations.

Although today’s workforce is advancing clean energy at a scale seemingly improbable just a decade ago, this next generation will pioneer solutions to the climate crisis none of us can envision today. With Perryman and students like him at the helm, the challenge feels more surmountable than ever before.

As Perryman begins his first semester at the University of Virginia, he shares his perspective on Ron Brown, renewable energy, and the future.

How did you first learn about the Ron Brown Scholar Program?

A close mentor and adviser for a group I founded called the Beachwood Climate Action Team shared information about the Ron Brown Scholar Program with me during my junior year of high school. She thought I was a perfect fit—not just because of my academic marks, but also for my community-focused attitude.

How are the Ron Brown resources helpful to students?

The Ron Brown Scholar Program is truly family! Each member of the RBS community strives to make whatever resources they have access to available for scholars. Thus far I have been connected with an amazing mentor who is both an RBS alum and a UVA graduate. It has been reassuring to have a guide who was once in my shoes.

Similarly, the networking opportunities with fellow scholars, corporate partners, and alumni who are now professionals have been amazing. I have met some of the most knowledgeable, genuine, and caring people in such a short time through the Ron Brown family. Each has been willing to take time to check in on me and help me talk through whatever is on my mind.

What has surprised you about the Ron Brown program so far?

I have been surprised by just how connected scholars, alumni, and staff are. I have felt so welcomed by everyone I have encountered. Each person has introduced me to a new contact, creating a web of connections I couldn’t have imagined when I first applied to be a scholar.

What experiences are you most looking forward to at the University of Virginia?

This first semester, I’m looking forward to a seminar called “Designing a Carbon-Neutral Future.” The class centers on a multidisciplinary team project to create a decarbonization plan. The class takes place in the UVA Rotunda—I could think of no better place to think about the best ways to solve the single greatest challenge currently facing humanity!

How do you feel that your career goals will broaden or narrow once you begin your studies?

After graduation, I hope to obtain my law degree and engage in some kind of public service. I think as I begin my studies at UVA, I will better be able to put specifics to what that means—including in what space and in what ways I want to make a positive impact. I have always prioritized engaging deeply with what I am passionate about. The myriad opportunities ahead thanks to the Ron Brown Scholar Program, like internships and studying abroad, are going to make that possible in new and exciting ways I cannot yet imagine.


What are you hoping to study at UVA?

I plan on double majoring in foreign affairs and global sustainability studies. One of my aspirations is to meaningfully contribute to creating a clean, sustainable, and just future. Whether that be through foreign affairs or public policy and law, I am certain it will incorporate the renewable energy industry. I find myself enthralled reading about recently passed subsidies in the Inflation Reduction Act or the new solar manufacturing facility being built in my home state of Ohio, but my interest in the renewable energy sector dates back much earlier. I remember poring over the Paris Climate Accords emissions projections in eighth grade, so excited by the fact that we had the tools available to reduce emissions and in awe of just how much of a role renewable energy would play.