Two ENST Students Receive NOAA Hollings Scholarships

AGNR students nab three of nine Hollings Scholarships awarded to UMD

NOAA Hollings Scholarship ENST recipients (from left to right) Maya Spaur, Victoria Monsaint-Queeney

April 23, 2015

Three College of Agriculture and Natural Resources students, alongside six other University of Maryland students, achieved a UMD milestone on April 8th; marking the largest number of UMD students to receive the prestigious National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Hollings Scholarship. The scholarship, awarded to just120 students across the country annually, provides studentswith a two-year, $8,000-per-year scholarship, as well as a 10-week, full-time internship position paying $650 per week, starting the summer after the recipient’s junior year.

Environmental Science and Policy sophomore recipients, Annie Rice and Maya Spaur, as well as Victoria Monsaint-Queeney, an Environmental Science and Technology sophomore double majoring in English and concentrating in Environmental Health, were among this year’s outstanding nine. All three students were thrilled to receive the news they had been accepted into the highly competitive program.

“I was at my internship at the Wilderness Society in D.C., checking my phone on the quarter hour for the email and getting more and more frantic when I didn't hear by the time I left the office at 5 pm,” Rice, concentrating in politics and policy, recalled. “I was getting on the Metro at 5:15…got the email, and gasped and started tearing up and smiling like a madwoman in the middle of the station.”

Meanwhile, Monsaint-Queeney, who is currently studying abroad in the Netherlands, was spending spring break in Florence, Italy when she received the news.

“It was one AM my time when I got the e-mail,” Monsaint-Queeney said. “I was so excited that I messaged all my friends back home because the friend I was traveling with was already asleep!”

The NOAA Hollings Scholarship Program covers travel costs for its recipients to attend a mandatory orientation and conference where they will present a paper and presentation. The internship portion of the award provides recipients with an opportunity to gain "hands-on" training experience in science, research, technology, policy, management and education activities to help propel students into their desired fields.

“My dream job is to become a state senator and/or a U.S. Congresswoman,” Rice said.  “I want to be a political advocate that has the background knowledge to adequately represent the scientific communityand this will prepare me for that kind of career by giving me firsthand experience working on environmental and climate issues.”

As for Spaur: “My dream job is to work for the United Nations' Environment Programme and further sustainability initiatives worldwide.  This scholarship will help me gain experience in ocean (or atmospheric) research and restoration efforts at the national level. Such experience is critical to understanding how to facilitate progress and cooperation regarding environmental issues not only between agencies, but also between nations.”

While Monsaint-Queeney doesn’t yet know exactly what her dream job is, she does know that she wants to help both people and the environment.

“This scholarship will hopefully be an introduction to what it's like to work with the government and also give me really helpful research skills,” Monsaint-Queeney said.. “I'm most excited about the possibility of having a mentor, because it's always nice to have someone you can go to with questions.”

In addition to this educational and occupational advantage, the NOAA Hollings Scholarship will open even more doors for these standout students; specifically allowing Spaur to study abroad in Monteverde, Costa Rica this summer where she will study tropical ecology and conservation.

 “Because of this program, I can attend school without having to worry about working during the academic year, a privilege that many people go without and I am lucky to have,” Rice said. “I will be able to devote more time to my extracurricular activities and focus on environmental activism, my true passion!”

 “I chose the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association because its operations directly align with what I am passionate about and want to work on in the future- mitigating global climate change and protecting our aquatic treasures, a passion inspired from my experiences working at the National Aquarium in Baltimore,” Spaur said. “Even more than the scholarship, the internship will provide me with an incredible opportunity to both serve the public and the environment by learning about and being a part of NOAA's operations.”