BAR HARBOR, Maine — Each year, the Morris K. and Stewart L Udall Foundation chooses 80 outstanding college students from across the nation as Udall Scholars. This year, third-year College of the Atlantic student Rachel Briggs of Honolulu, HI, received the scholarship for her commitment to a sustainable environment. She is the only student in Maine to have received this honor. Two other COA students, Kathryn Shlepr and Trudi Zundel, were among the 50 to receive honorable mentions; only two others studying in Maine were given honorable mentions. Shlepr recently was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship. Briggs received a Udall honorable mention last year.
The students come from 70 colleges and universities and are chosen from 585 candidates nominated by 274 colleges and universities.
In her first year at COA, Briggs, a 2009 graduate of La Pietra High School, noticed that COA was still offering bottled water on campus at times. Though many had recognized this as wasteful and unnecessary, it wasn’t until Briggs took action that anything changed. She wrote a new policy and brought it through the college’s community governance system, All College Meeting. Thanks to Briggs, COA no longer allows bottled water on campus. Her advocacy, especially on issues of water, has since escalated. Briggs just returned from the World Water Forum in Marseilles, France where she worked to include a forward-thinking youth perspective into the global water discussions.
“I am passionate about public land conservation, and want to help preserve the spectacular places of this world,” wrote Briggs in her application. “I am from Hawaii, a place where both the wonder and finite nature of environmental resources are abundantly apparent. As such, I believe strongly that natural resources are valuable in their beauty as well as their utility.”
Ken Cline, COA faculty member in law and policy has worked closely with Briggs throughout her time at COA. “It is always exciting when a COA student receives a national scholarship of this caliber,” he said of her acceptance by the foundation. “In this case, it is especially exciting in that I knew Mo Udall and some of his family. He would have been delighted that someone like Rachel is a recipient of this scholarship—she is bright and very engaged academically, has a strong record of community service, and is deeply committed to public lands and progressive environmental policy. She shares Mo’s passion, integrity and generous spirit. Somehow I imagine both Mo and Stewart smiling in the knowledge that their name recognizes such talented young people as Rachel who share a deep commitment to our common natural heritage.”
The scholars are chosen by a 14-member independent review committee, based on the students’ commitment to careers in the environment, health care, or tribal public policy; leadership potential; and academic achievement. Each scholarship provides up to $5,000 for the student’s junior or senior year. Those receiving honorable mentions will receive a $350 award.
College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit www.coa.edu.