Loyola alum is leading the (water) way
“When you understand water’s true value and what it takes to get it to you, it’s like an astronaut seeing earth from space for the first time,” says George McGraw, who graduated from Loyola in 2009. “You see how small the planet is and how connected we all are.”
• See how you can help at the DIGDEEP website.
When Loyola alum George McGraw gets behind the podium Friday to deliver his Commencement speech, he’ll be talking to an arena full of students who are only a few years younger than him.
But don’t mistake his age or youthful looks for a lack of real-world experience.
McGraw, who graduated from Loyola in 2009, is the founder and executive director of DIGDEEP, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit dedicated to making clean water more accessible and sustainable in every community.
It’s an idea that sprung out of a research project on human rights he conducted while he was a student at Loyola. After finding out that water is not considered a right under the International Declaration of Human Rights, McGraw made it his mission to change how people think about the world’s most precious resource.
“I assumed because there was water running through my taps, that water was a human right,” McGraw said. “But that hasn’t been the case for most of human history.”
McGraw extended his research project into his graduate work at the United Nations University for Peace, where he earned a master’s degree in international law. McGraw published that research in Loyola’s international law review, and his work is now required reading in some college classes on human rights.
He went on to create DIGDEEP in 2011, which has field programs in New Mexico, South Sudan, and Cameroon. But DIGDEEP does more than bring clean water to those who need it most; it helps people—especially Americans—see their water usage in global terms.
“As a country that consumes the most water of any other country per capita, we need to take this more seriously, not only because it will help us treat others as equals, but because we’re facing our own water crisis here at home,” McGraw said.
“When you understand water’s true value and what it takes to get it to you, it’s like an astronaut seeing earth from space for the first time. You see how small the planet is and how connected we all are.”
Read a longer version of this story in the next issue of Loyola magazine.
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