Nominating outstanding students for nationally-competitive scholarships and fellowships is one way to showcase the world-class undergraduate experience at Texas A&M. Not only do the winners in these competitions receive valuable support for their educational expenses, but they also join professional networks that will continue to open doors throughout their careers. But a student does not have to win a competition to realize the value of the national fellowships application process. The applications for these awards ask students to reflect on their ambitions and how they are building knowledge, skills, and experience related to following their dreams. Students report that the application is a truly clarifying experience.
One of the awards that LAUNCH: National Fellowships serves as a nominating official for is the Udall Scholarship. This award, from the Morris K. & Stuart L. Udall Foundation, recognizes top students planning careers related to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care. Students who are selected will receive scholarships of up to $7000 and join a community of scholars whose dedication to sustainable public policy honors the legacy of the Arizona congressmen.
We are proud to announce the nomination of Texas A&M undergraduates Kalista Jordan-DeBruin ’21, Juan Rodriguez ’21, Paige Wirth ’21, and Harrison Coker ’21 for the 2020 Udall Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship.
Kalista Jordan-DeBruin ’21
Kalista Jordan-Debruin ‘21
Tipp City, Ohio native Kalista Jordan-DeBruin is a junior double-majoring in international studies and economics with minors in Spanish and environmental geosciences. She served as the 2019-2020 Chair of the MSC Leland T. and Jessie W. Jordan Institute for International Awareness and has previously served as the 2018-2019 Executive of the Internship and Living Abroad Program and 2018 Interim Executive of the Overseas Loan Fund. She is also involved with University Honors, Liberal Arts Cornerstone Honors, and Honors in International Studies.
Off-campus, Kalista volunteers at the Brazos Interfaith Immigration Network. She has spent time helping teach English and providing one-on-one assistant instruction to help prepare students to take the Naturalization Exam. In 2018, Kalista had her first experience with trailwork through a week-long volunteer project with the Sierra Club and the U.S. Forest Service in Idaho. This experience inspired her to apply to be a Wilderness Volunteer/Intern, and she spent 3 months with the Gunflint Ranger District in Superior National Forest during Summer 2019. Her experience in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was, quite literally, a life-changing experience because it was here that she decided to pursue a career working in public lands. Kalista was offered a tentative seasonal position for Summer 2020 at a National Forest in Utah and is excited to get to start pursuing her “dream job” as a junior in college. Eventually, she plans to pursue a Masters in Environmental Management and work towards increasing equitable access balanced with resource and public land management.
Harrison Coker ’21
Harrison Coker ‘21
Harrison Coker is a double major in renewable natural resources and forestry from Little River-Academy, Texas. After graduation, Harrison plans to pursue graduate education while working to become a research scientist. For over a year Harrison has been working in Dr. Bradford Wilcox’s Ecohydrology lab where he studies how the water budget is being altered by a native invasive shrub, yaupon holly. Deeply curious towards the science driving our world, he wants to pursue hydrologic research as a career. Along with science, Harrison is passionate about teaching and has served as an undergraduate teaching assistant for two semesters (the first semester was for a freshman seminar in the department, this semester is for Fundamentals of Ecology). Harrison was recently awarded with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences/Alpha Zeta Most Outstanding Junior Award.
Juan Rodriguez ‘21
Juan Rodriguez ‘21
Juan Rodriguez is a sophomore electronic systems engineering technology major from Roma, Texas. His investment in electricity started at the age of ten as an electrician’s assistant to his father. His interests in electrical circuitry led him to apply to Texas A&M, a leading research university and the best university in Texas. During his freshman year, he joined the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers in hopes to network and find a place to practice his heritage. After his freshman year, Juan studied abroad in Mexico for two weeks with Engineering Learning Community Introduction to Research to learn about the research process. He also had a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) with PATHS-UP. For his REU, Juan worked with phantoms (fake skin) to test point of care devices in healthcare. He furthered his experience with research by joining AggiE-Challenge during his fall semester of sophomore year. During this experience, he worked as a data analyst for an app to help veterans with PTSD. Juan hopes to contribute to the research field and aid in renewable energy.
Paige Wirth ‘21
Page Wirth ‘21
Paige Wirth is a sophomore environmental geoscience major, from Middleton, Wisconsin. She discovered the importance of the preservation of nature at a summer camp in northern Wisconsin, where she has spent over a year in total working and volunteering to teach campers about the value of the environment. She is the vice president of the Texas A&M Geography Society, the Resident Advisor for the Sustainability Living Learning Community, a student senator representing the College of Geoscience, an Intern with the Office of Sustainability, and a student researcher for two labs in climate change and plant pathology.
During the summer of 2020, Paige will be interning at Olbrich Botanical Gardens as a horticulture intern in Madison. After graduation, Paige hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in plant biogeography, to continue researching the ways that people can best serve the environment.
To read more about how LAUNCH: National Fellowships helps prepare outstanding students to compete for nationally-competitive awards such as the Udall Scholarship with the generous support of the Association of Former Students, please visit http://natlfellows.tamu.edu.