Since 2006, the University of Florida has honored Outstanding Young Alumni whose achievements positively impact The Gator Nation. 40 Gators Under 40 continues the tradition of honoring Gators who are going greater in their communities and professions.

Recipients are nominated annually by their college and honored during the UF Alumni Association’s Orange & Blue week festivities. Criteria for the award include being less than 40 years old, making a significant impact on their industry and having professional accomplishments at the State, National or International level.

This year, three remarkable EduGators joined the 2022 honorees: Jessica Thomas (M.Ed. ’16), James R. Tyger (Ph.D. ’20) and India White (M.Ed. ’13, Ed.D. ’20).

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Jessica Thomas (M.Ed. ’16)

Jessica Thomas is currently serving as an Assistant Principal with Brevard Public Schools in Brevard County, Florida. Prior to becoming an administrator, Mrs. Thomas was a teacher for 8 years and has been so thrilled to continue serving students in the same community in which she grew up. As a young girl, she felt as though she school system – and all the wonderful people in it – had a significant influence in raising her. She joined the field of education in order to make the same difference for the next generation. Mrs. Thomas has four children of her own who are/will be entering the public school system as well, so her passion for ensuring the system serves every student with excellence is deeply rooted in both her own success as well as in her children’s futures.

In her current role, Mrs. Thomas serves as an advocate for all students and works closely with teachers and school staff to give students the very best opportunity for success. Mrs. Thomas build bridges with community groups such as the local police department and other local businesses to provide rewards and opportunities for students in her school. Additionally, she is completing the Level II program, which is a rigorous leadership development program offered by the district in order to prepare assistant principals for future roles as school principals. Mrs. Thomas is also completing her Ed.D in Organizational Leadership from Grand Canyon University, expected to graduate by Summer 2022.

Jessica Thomas

Jessica Thomas

James R. Tyger (Ph.D. ’20)

As an administrator in higher education, James Tyger leads multiple departments at the University of Florida centered on campus engagement. He is a key leader in creating student-centered programs that support practical skill development and cultivate a lifetime of memories. He is responsible for preserving time-honored traditions and building new ones.

Nationally, James is a thought-leader in his professional field, actively contributing to knowledge communities on student development, student government and First Amendment issues. Outside of his direct work, he teaches higher education law at the College of Education and serves as the advisor for the Hispanic Student Association.

James R. Tyger

James R. Tyger

India White (M.Ed. ‘13, Ed.D. ’20)

India White is a motivational speaker, author, and National Educational Consultant. Audiences learn from her hardships and triumphs in life. As a former homeless student, she kicked out of the house on Christmas Eve at the age of 16. India is a 3-time graduate from the University of Florida majoring in math and Ed. Leadership, then obtaining her doctorate as a McKnight fellow in Educational Leadership and Administration. She was named Teacher of the Year in two counties while publishing 37 books, being an Assistant Principal, and business owner in Florida. She also held prestigious membership as a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society.

As an entrepreneur, she aspires to impact business leaders as a transformational leader. India has been awarded with the title of “Most Successful in Business” by the 100 Successful Women in Business, and Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women.

India has shared her talents with educational leaders when discussing equity, diversity, and inclusion. She has held positions as a math teacher, math coach, administrator, and a National Ed Consultant for Big Ideas Learning. India’s mission is to find out how to use equitable practices in math classrooms to bridge the achievement gap. Some of the platforms Dr. White has presented for include the National Council for Teachers in Mathematics (NCTM), National Alliance of Black School Educators, and the Florida Council of Teachers in Mathematics.

India White

India White

2022 40 Gators Under 40 class at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
April 16, 2022

2022 40 Gators Under 40