CEC has been awarding scholarships since 2016 to Burlingame High School (BHS) seniors with a keen interest in the environment and the potential to build a career around sustainability issues. In 2019 we decided to ask them what they’ve been doing in college, and we’ve been impressed and encouraged by their responses. It’s exciting to see youth whom we thought had promise already beginning to realize their potential and making a difference while still in college.
We granted one of our first scholarships in 2016 to Maarten Thomas-Bosum, who planned to major in physics and work on alternative energy sources. In 2020 he was a senior at Boston College, about to complete a major in Physics and a minor in Math. He was active in the campus Ecopledge and Climate Justice Clubs and was working as a research assistant in a campus physics lab on a new solar energy technology and on a CO2 capture and sequestration project.
Isabella Acenas (BHS 2017) kept us informed during her first two incredibly productive years at New York University. She served as an American delegate to the U.N. Climate Meeting in Abu Dhabi, and she designed a research project in Dubai to study sea level rise in South Pacific island nations. She majored in Environmental Studies and has aspirations to work for the United Nations and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
In 2018 we interviewed Andrew Barrows, who was already an experienced diver and had observed firsthand the decline of coral reefs due to climate change. In early 2020 he was at the University of Hawaii studying marine biology. He had an internship at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, where he was studying methods to raise or farm reef-building coral, which could someday aid in restoring the world’s reefs.
In early 2020 Keala Uchoa (BHS 2018) had completed her first year at Northwestern University. She hoped to become an attorney and work on environmental and social justice issues from a legal and public policy platform. Her coursework so far had included the ocean, atmosphere and climate; environmental law and policy: and Latinx resistance to environmental racism. As president of Fossil Free Northwestern and an undergraduate representative to the Committee on Investment Responsibility, she was pressing the university to divest its fossil fuel investments and reinvest in renewable energy. She also interned during the summer of 2019 at the Westside Justice Center, a Chicago legal aid clinic.
Orla Lynagh-Shannon (BHS 2019) is currently home, successfully taking UCLA classes remotely. Orla’s plan is to major in Environmental Science and Business/Economics. In 2019, Orla took a seminar called “Women and Minorities in Geoscience.” The final project for that class was interviewing Dr. Stephanie Pincetl, a scientist and the director of the UCLA Center for Sustainable Urban Systems, with whom she is hoping to conduct research. In early 2020, Orla was running for a Director of Sustainability position on the On Campus Housing Council, but with the dorms closed the election has been postponed. Over the summer 2020, Orla attended a coffee chat with Google’s Sustainability Team, and as a result, started researching the Master’s Program at the Yale School of the Environment.