Environmental Science student named NOAA Hollings Scholar

Environmental Science student named NOAA Hollings Scholar

A Georgia College environmental science major is one of only two students in the state to win a distinguished national science scholarship named after the late Senator Ernest F. Hollings, who supported ocean policy and conservation.

Junior Nadya Gutierrez of Johns Creek was recently selected as a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hollings Scholar. This honor includes a two-year academic award of $9,500, a 10-week paid summer internship at a NOAA facility and funding to present her NOAA research at two national scientific conferences.

It’s very competitive—only 123 scholarships were awarded across the country this year.
– Anna Whiteside
“It’s very competitive—only 123 scholarships were awarded across the country this year,” said Anna Whiteside, assistant director of Georgia College’s Honors Program and coordinator of its National Scholarships Office.

“Nadya has an excellent academic record and has shown a commitment to NOAA-related fields,” Whiteside said. “This award will give Nadya the unique opportunity to get hands-on experience as an intern at NOAA, as well as the opportunity to join an esteemed network of scholars.”

The scholarship was established in 2005. To be considered, college sophomores must major in a NOAA mission field such as oceanic, environmental, biological and atmospheric sciences, math, engineering, remote sensing technology, physical sciences, social sciences or teacher education.

Nadya Gutierrez is a junior environmental science major and geology minor.
Nadya Gutierrez is a junior environmental science major and geology minor.
Gutierrez was referred to the National Scholarship Office by one of her professors, Dr. Allison VandeVoort, She applied, excited by the chance to work with professionals in careers she dreams of joining.

“It’s such an honor to be selected for this scholarship,” Gutierrez said. “I am very humbled and grateful for such an amazing opportunity. It will help me in so many ways by giving me experience in conducting and presenting research.”

Her application stood out, she thinks, because of Georgia College’s commitment to undergraduate research. Last year, Gutierrez explored the infrastructure of dams and how they affect macroinvertebrates populations. Most students wouldn’t begin such study until junior year, she said.

Gutierrez also worked as a supplemental instructor leader at the Learning Center for Biology and Ecology. This tutoring experience—as well as her geology minor and high school involvement at national environmental science competitions—made her a well-rounded candidate.

Her hope is to get an internship that benefits the livelihood of Americans and helps her gain a deeper understanding of the world. She’d like to study population ecology in estuary ecosystems and learn how urban runoff affects different populations in natural habitats. Gutierrez hopes to present management plans that restore estuaries.

I am very grateful for the scholarship I’ve been awarded, but I am more excited for the internship that comes with the program. There aren’t many opportunities to conduct mentored research with professionals from federal agencies such as NOAA.
– Nadya Gutierrez
“I am very grateful for the scholarship I’ve been awarded,” she said, “but I am more excited for the internship that comes with the program. There aren’t many opportunities to conduct mentored research with professionals from federal agencies such as NOAA.”

The internship could open the door to working with other governmental agencies in the future. Gutierrez hopes to someday work for NOAA, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) or the DNR (Department of Natural Resources).

Being a NOAA Hollings Scholar gives Gutierrez confidence to try other national competitions in the future as well, like the Fulbright or Rhodes scholarships. It’ll also make her more competitive when applying to graduate school.

In the future, I hope to work for a government agency that promotes the sustainability and health of all people. This internship program, hopefully, will help me get my dream job.
– Nadya Gutierrez

Nadya Gutierrez
Nadya Gutierrez