What leadership roles or volunteer experiences have been important to you during your time at Maryland?
There have been two major leadership roles that have had a great impact on me.
The first one is being Vice President for ENST Restore. Restore is a student organization that strives to enhance the learning experience of Environmental Science and Technology Students. In collaboration with my President and Secretary we have organized professional events such as Internship and Career Night. Over 40 Students came to each of our events. Additionally we collect over 1000 plastic bags per semester with our Bags for Bagels event. It’s simple; students bring plastic bags and we give them a fresh bagel in return. It has been such a rewarding experience to play a role in working with the students at UMD.
Working with students at UMD is also the reason my second leadership experience has had a great impact on me. Last year, I was offered the position as German Language Mentor at the Language House Living and Learning Program. Here I get the opportunity to help fellow Terps that choose to study German extensively. I ensure everyone speaks German at all times and plan weekly activities and field trips. All ten of my students have increased in language fluency and cultural awareness. It is fulfilling to see the enthusiasm and progress in my students over time.
What has your scholarship meant to you and how has it enabled you to pursue new and exciting opportunities?
Being a terp is an exciting opportunity in itself.
This scholarship has shaped my whole experience at University of Maryland and allowed to me to actually become a Terp. Prior to receiving this scholarship I had no time to engage in extracurricular activities such as student organizations or volunteer opportunities. Since then, I have become Vice-President for ENST Restore, increased my GPA, and took on many volunteer opportunities with student organizations such as planting wildflower meadows. I am especially excited about being able to finally be able to accept internships that are relevant to my area of study without falling behind in tuition payments. These internships are important components of my learning experience here at UMD and have allowed me to connect with many other students and professionals. Additionally, these internships are important as they all serve the communities surrounding College Park. For example, I was offered the chance to be a part in a stream restoration project that now handles water run off much better. This lowers the negative impacts of flooding for surrounding communities and increases water quality at the same time.
Overall, this scholarship has greatly aided me to, not just be a terp, but feel and live like a fearless terp and allowed me to have an impact on my community.
How will you make a positive difference in the world?
The main reason I study natural resources management is the simple fact that I enjoy the outdoors. No matter the weather, no matter the activity the outdoors has always provided me a sense of comfort and belonging. Thinking back, I have always enjoyed being outside. As a child, my mother and I would go on long hikes through local forests and spend the whole day outside with nothing more than a water bottle, a map, and some sandwiches. Even when there was no time to go the forest, I would play in the streets of our small town neighborhood or in the small strip of woods outside the town limits. Despite my great grandfather's efforts to educate me, I had no idea how complex these ecosystems I was trampling through were. When my great grandfather was younger, he was a forest ranger. He would always say, “You can either live off the land or live with the land.” I did not really know what he meant, until I became much older.
Over the years I grew apart from what I once believed defined me. I let outside factors influence my decisions, actions and beliefs. I was made to believe that science was not for me and instead, I was a people’s person. In an attempt to start over, and to go on a journey to find myself, I moved to the United States and shortly after, joined the United States Marine Corps. I was granted the opportunity to start over.
I spend a lot of time standing duty outside a bomb dump, a place where bombs were stored in the middle of a subtropical forest in Okinawa. It was here, where I started looking at trees, plants and animals again. I started noticing the large leaves on the cycads and the spider webs in between. I started noticing how the fern moved when the wind was building up. But I was especially intrigued by how well how these natural features managed to survive the recurring typhoons. The typhoons were so strong that cars would often times flipped over and structures were damaged. Humans all stayed inside to avoid being hurt but the all the small businesses close to the beach would still flood and get damaged. The plot of subtropical forest in which I stood guard in never got damaged or flooded. The leaves intercepted some of the rain, the tree trunk stood strong in the wind, and the undergrowth caught the remaining raindrops to avoid heavy impact into the soil. No human management was needed, because we had not had a great impact on that specific plot.
It was in that moment, that I knew that my great grandfather planted a seed in me, because I wanted to play the role of someone that contributes to “living with the land.” It is now my intention to become a forest ranger, just as he was, to help maintain and restore places, such as the plot, I used to stand guard in for a sustainable future.