GROing Above and Beyond

By Michaela Burns

Having recently graduated university, I still have early morning classes, long research paper assignments, and three to five hour finals very fresh in my mind. So fresh in fact that some days I find myself still preparing to walk across campus even though I now live a state away. I have to shake the thought off with an exaggerated shudder. When I think about how I made it through those dark times, one thing leaps to the front of my mind—I had a lot of help. If I tried to count the teachers, friends, and employers that inspired and supported me throughout my four year trek in academia I’d run out of fingers and toes. Sometimes it was just a two minute conversation in the hall, other times it was a very scathing paper critique. To use an African proverb commonly quoted today, “It took a village,” a network of people and organizations, to get me emotionally, physically and academically to the finish line.

plant growing out of bookFor more than 30 years, EPA has been supporting and encouraging undergraduates in environmental-related fields through the Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowship program. Winners of this fellowship receive up to $50,000 for their last 2 years of college and the chance to intern at an EPA facility during the summer. Sponsorship and hands-on-research experience can be invaluable to prospective environmental scientists, giving them the tools and the contacts they need to pursue careers in federal government, academia, the private sector, and other non-government organizations.

EPA just announced that  GRO fellowships were awarded to 34 students who are majoring in environmental science, engineering, mathematics, and technology all across the nation. Just like me, these GRO fellows will now have the opportunity to fulfill their ambitions like finding sustainable solutions to protect freshwater resources, contributing to environmental policy, and exploring the interaction between pollution and the environment. Congratulations to the next generation of environmental scientists!

You can learn more about some of our fellowship opportunities here.

About the Author: Michaela Burns is an Oak Ridge Associated Universities contractor and writer for the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

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