Congratulations to Olivia Sward, 2022 recipient of HALT’s $1000 scholarship! This scholarship is awarded to a graduating Hopkinton High School student intending to major in ecology, natural resources/wildlife management, water resources and management, or environmental sciences. Olivia is exceptionally qualified, having been involved in environmental studies throughout high school. She has been a member of Hopkinton’s Sustainable Green Committee for over a year (a rare student on a town committee), and was involved in a number of environmental and community service activities throughout high school. That, and an exemplary academic record left no doubt she has what it will take to succeed.
Olivia plans to attend the University of California at Berkeley with a major in environmental science or policy. Read a portion of her scholarship submission essay below.
Three years ago, when first confronted with the question, “what is your intended college major?” I selected environmental studies without hesitation, despite having no clue about my future major prior to that moment. It felt natural, though, not like some random decision. I’ve grown up knowing that climate change will be the biggest challenge facing my generation, so environmental studies was an easy choice. I know my future job title will include “Environmental,” but I’m still not sure about the second word. Environmental Scientist? Environmental Policymaker? Environmental Lawyer? I’m interested in policy work, as I want to be influencing environmental change on the world stage and create widespread progress. That being said, I am also interested in conservation work as I want to be working directly with people to find environmental solutions that work for them. I also am passionate about spreading awareness about all sides of environmental issues, from ocean acidification and pollution to environmental injustice. As such, along with solving environmental issues, I want to be involved with environmental education initiatives, as one of the most impactful ways to create progress is by shifting cultural ideals to be more about sustainability.
Already, I have begun getting involved with environmental work locally. During my junior year of high school, I joined Hopkinton’s Sustainable Green Committee. The committee focuses on different projects such as recycling events, a town climate action plan, awareness initiatives, and more. With the committee, I have volunteered at a recycling event and helped run a town-wide litter clean-up. As the first student member of this committee, I hope to have paved the way for other teenagers to get involved. I am also a co-president of Hopkinton High School’s Environmental Club. One of the goals of the club is to start meaningful discussions about environmental issues and to present information on different topics to spread environmental awareness and motivate our members to make an impact. We talk about topics anywhere from composting and recycling to environmental racism and policy. We take the topics we learn about in meetings and spread the information to the student body. Additionally, we are currently working with the high school administration to make the school’s recycling practices more efficient and effective.
I believe that I am qualified for this scholarship for a number of reasons. I have already taken initiative in my community to help spread awareness and promote sustainability. I will continue to bring this spirit of activism with me to college and into my future career. I am a strong student and will take what I learn from my environmental studies degree into the world to create change. I am naturally curious person researched and explored different environmental problems already through science fair, and I will continue to do so in my undergraduate education.
My leadership abilities and experience in the environmental fields and other areas have prepared me to be an environmental leader and changemaker. Additionally, already and through my future work, I will be dedicated to promoting equity through environmental progress. Every nation has different resources and situations in fighting climate change, and I want to be creating policy that allows all countries to mitigate environmental problems most effectively and efficiently. Oftentimes, environmental issues disproportionately impact historically marginalized communities. Through my future work, I want to promote justice while helping to solve these issues. Whether in my career, education, or personal life, I am committed to being a leader in the movement to mitigate climate change.