We are excited to announce the Spring/Summer Semester winner of our $500 academic scholarship, Alexis Giordano, a student at Alfred University. Learn more about her proudest achievements and academic and career goals.
From the first memory I can recall, all the way up until high school, it was my dream to become a veterinarian. Having an undying love for animals, I thought this was the perfect path for me. My family and friends would tease me throughout my teen years by calling me “Doctor Alexis.” It was comforting to know that I was going to be supported even if I chose one of the most emotionally painful jobs.
However, somewhere down the line, I realized that I did not want to become a veterinarian anymore. However, people were still congratulating me on the incredible life I was setting for myself. I found a new passion but was unsure where to take it. I did not want to switch careers after this lifelong build-up.
The first time I ever questioned my career aspirations was when I was selected to be on a three-student research team for an International Student Science Fair. From the beginning of the application process, I knew that this would be a life-altering experience. However, to come out of it with a new career in mind was something I never expected. Our project was focused on environmental sustainability.
Specifically, we tested how an organic system of rooted plants could uptake toxins from local waterways. We experimented on this topic for a year, studying different plant species with our eutrophicated water samples. During this time, I was intrigued by the process of experimenting with the idea of creating a prototype. We traveled to Singapore to present our project to a panel of judges and peers from across the world. I learned how to educate international students on a topic that might not be prevalent in their area.
At the same time, I got to sit in on experiments that would have never been important for my local environment. For that entire week, we learned to interact with students from diverse cultures while sharing our innovative ideas. For once, I had felt that passion within me, rather than hearing it from people who expected it from me.
In a way, my focus is still on the quality of life. Rather than strictly focusing on animals, I can also incorporate humans. The importance of environmental science and sustainability is a very personal topic. My school, which I attended from kindergarten until my high school graduation, was built on top of a dumping site from the Manhattan Project.
We would hike in the forest behind the school, learning about the Earth. When I was in about fifth grade, they stopped taking us farther back than the playground. I did not think much of it at the time because, as an eleven-year-old, I did not have any knowledge about the dangers beneath the school ground. It became a massive health concern, and the only way to address the toxic waste without causing more harm was to avoid it as much as possible. I also live within fifteen minutes of the infamous love canal and a landfill that burdens the tourist area of Niagara Falls. I have been surrounded by toxic waste my entire life.
Everywhere I turn in my community, there is another disaster waiting to happen. Once I experimented with toxic clean-up through my participation in the science fair, I started thinking of all the wasteful areas in my hometown. Based on our prototype, I knew that cleaning up our environment was plausible and crucial to the sustainability of our ecosystem. Since then, I decided that I wanted to dedicate myself to helping clean up our planet. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to revisit our science project from Singapore and implement a revamped version of our prototype in the local environment.
I have enrolled in an environmental science program, where I am striving to reach the Dean’s list for both the fall and spring semesters. I plan to reach the Dean’s list every semester while I am a student, as academics have always been my main priority. I will have to adjust my plan based on the specific workloads for each semester, but I normally set a goal to study at least fifteen hours per week. I am also starting employment at a company where environmental sustainability is a growing conversation.
I hope to be able to lead discussions on how environmental sustainability needs to be prioritized more throughout the retail industry. If I had never applied for the International Student Science Fair, I would not have found my passion for environmental science. I would still be pursuing a path that I fell out of love with. Studying environmental science means that I will actively work towards cleaning up my environment and the rest of the world around me.
Interested in applying to our scholarship? Learn more about our requirements and apply today.