2019 Scholars

Ki'Ana Speights

"If we are going to be part of the solution, we have to engage the problems." -- Majora Carter

Growing up I never knew that I was going to go to a predominantly white all-women's university. Despite my issues with my institution, attending an all-women's college has allowed my love for equality of people to grow. I'm majoring in Environmental Science due to my love for the environment and passion for studying climate change. My first experience on how climate change can affect humans, was when I took an environmentally based International Studies class my sophomore year. The class was focused on climate change around the world and how climate change can lead people to migrate from their home country. I feel that is where I found my true interest in connecting the environment on the human level perspective. However, after I took an Animal Behavior class I wanted to study animals more and decided to fly across the world to Tanzania, East Africa to study Wildlife ecology during my junior year. Even though Africa was amazing, I realized a month in that doing research on wildlife conservation was a long-term goal for me. I am passionate about large wildlife, however, I really connected with the community there and realized that there is a lot of environmental injustice that plays a big role in the conservation of wildlife animals. The whole system of wildlife conservation is very colonial, and doesn't take into perspective the livelihoods of the different people and cultures that live within the respective areas. After coming back from Africa, I realized that I wanted to pursue my career in Environmental Justice.

My school doesn't specify internships for minorities at my school unless it is for international students. I found an opportunity to intern at the Department of Energy in Grand Junction, Colorado. Not only was I excited to have this internship, but also the opportunity to be able to do it on the opposite side of the country. My project was based on assessing the effectiveness of a Uranium Workshop that was being presented on the Navajo Nation. I was able to speak up for a community while also being able to learn about the culture. I was able to sit be a part of the first and second Uranium Workshop, and was able to give some insightful feedback and recommendations to improve the Uranium Workshop. The MES program gave me the opportunity to direct my career choices within Environmental Justice. I am now a part of the Environmental Justice Club that runs through Pre-College University, and am excited for the new opportunities that will present themselves.

Emmanuel Burns

Since the day Emmanuel Burns stepped into his 6th grade Earth Science class, he began to cultivate a sincere love for the sciences, as science explored the world around him and gave answers to the questions his inquisitive mind had about the world. This love led to Emmanuel entering the math and science program at his local high school in Atlanta, Georgia. The experience furthered his interest in science and biology, because it allowed him to take pathway classes in healthcare and biotechnology, where he was exposed to a variety medical and healthcare careers. After graduating from high school, Emmanuel chose to attend Atlanta Metropolitan State College where he is currently a senior Biological Science student, with a minor in Chemistry. While at Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Emmanuel became a researcher within the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program, where he participated in symposiums for student researchers. Through engagement with his research advisor, Emmanuel learned about the Mentorship for Environmental Scholars Program (MES), where he realized he could get the opportunity to expand his research knowledge.

In earning the internship, Emmanuel officially became a part of the Pre-College University (PCU) family. With this opportunity, he gained professional experience and research knowledge, while also honing a few life skills at Los Alamos National Laboratory. At the laboratory, Emmanuel studied rock varnish as a potential biosignature for Mars using LC-MS analysis. This unique opportunity helped him to become a better scientist, researcher, and professional. Additionally, the internship enhanced Emmanuel's long-term goal of getting into an M.D.-Ph.D. program to practice medicine as a Cardiologist. Emmanuel says "The MES internship helped me to mature overall as an individual and allotted me the opportunity to network with people in similar career paths, from various backgrounds". MES is a great program that provides everyone the tools to grow in their desired field of study, while giving them a push towards their career goals. All the while inviting them to step outside of their comfort zone and explore a plethora of new experiences.

Liz Ortiz

"It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always." –Oprah Winfrey

Ever since I was a young girl I had a desire to explore science and everything this field involves. The decision to field a major was difficult, but my path started in my senior year of high school when I decided to study Chemistry. I developed a passion for this field because everything around us is chemistry and I enjoy understanding the nature of materials around me. I graduated high school in 2016 from Colegio Nuesta Senora de Valvanera, Puerto Rico and started my studies at Coffeyville Community College, Kansas. In this college, my passion for chemistry grew even more because of the involvement in the classroom as well with the laboratories. In 2018, I graduated from this intuition with an Associate's Degree in Science and continued my Bachelors in Chemistry at Savannah State University. This institution has helped me become a better student, person, and has guided me to select a future career.

After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, I developed an urge to help the environment and learn from it. Besides that, I enjoy nature and being outside. For those reasons, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Environmental Chemistry, concentrating on water quality. Being a part of the Mentorship for Environmental Scholars (MES) Program this past summer, helped me explore the environmental field and fall in love with it. The research done at Savannah State University laboratory with Dr. Sajwan over the Savannah River and Wastewater Treatment Plants, helped me explore and understand water quality and how important this is for the community.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be." I have decided to be a person who helps the environment and gives back to the community. Pre-College University has given me life time lessons and has pushed me to find my way. I am really thankful for the experience this summer and the opportunity to be involved in the environmental field, as well with enlighten my path as a college student.

2018 Scholars

Janna Muhammad

"Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel". -Socrates

Janna Muhammad is dual degree Chemistry and Chemical Engineering major from Fort Valley State University. Janna's passion for science comes from her exposure to the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) industry during high school. Janna was a part of a STEM Academy all four years of high school. The program helped Janna realize that she had a love for chemistry. She has been passionate about cosmetics all her life. Upon discovering her love for chemistry, she decided to become a chemical engineer, with plans of creating her own cosmetics in the future. Finding her passion early has helped her excel in the classroom and beyond. Janna obtained her cosmetology certificate in 10th grade and began dual enrollment at Georgia State University in the 12th grade. Dual enrollment gave Janna the time she needed to intern and work in the cosmetics industry, while still getting her lesson. While in college Janna became active in many different organizations, one of which was the National Society of Black Engineers. This organization gave her the opportunity to intern with the Mentorship for Environmental Scholars program (MES). She interned at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. She worked on a self-healing polymer project and presented her research to other scientists at the laboratory. "MES has given me the opportunity to work on things I didn't even know I was interested in", she says of the program. She plans to obtain her PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Santa Barbara, California, upon completing her undergraduate degrees. Ultimately, she would like to start a program focused on young entrepreneurs in the STEM field. The programs objective will be to give entrepreneurs access to capital and Mentorship.

For future applicants Janna says "If you are getting your degree in anything science math and technology related, the Mentorship for Environmental Scholars program is for you, they will help you to build your pipeline to success "!

Kia Alicia Smith

Ever since Kia Smith was a young girl, she was always curious about what type of career path she would ultimately pursue. Like many young people, her interests changed regularly; however, these changes were often influenced by those closest to her. She had no idea what career path she wanted to take until she had an enlightening conversation with her older cousin, who is currently in the pharmaceutical research field. That conversation was only the beginning of the many scenarios that Kia would encounter, helping spark her interest in research. Her passion for exploration has been a key factor in her wanting to become a field researcher. Additionally, just like MES, she wants to later start a mentor program for middle and high school students so that they could receive an insight on careers in research. Until then, she focuses on finding the type of research she would like best.

According to Eleanor Roosevelt, "The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience." Experiences tend to help shape one's life. For Kia, the Mentorship for Environmental Scholars did just that. Kia is originally from Lithonia, Georgia but decided to continue her education at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana, majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. During her sophomore year at Dillard University, Kia participated in a research program under LS- Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation (LS-LAMP). She worked in a biology lab where she conducted research on the microbial contamination on fresh produce, examining different bacteria nested on fruits and vegetables. In short, her goal was to see the extent of contamination on fresh produce depending on the source of each individual product. Kia used her research experience at Dillard as a foundation for other research opportunities such as the MES Internship Program. Through the LS-LAMP program, Kia attended a job fair and had the opportunity to become acquainted with Pre-College University's (PCU) executive director, Clarence Brown, about the missions of the organization and the purpose of the Mentorship for Environmental Scholars. Kia viewed this opportunity and interaction as a blessing and decided to allow the Pre- College University and the U.S. Department of Energy help expand her knowledge on environmental science. Kia's intern site was Savannah State University where she conducted five different environmental research projects. This summer's internship experience and her growing interest in environmental sciences has propelled her with the desire to conduct more environmental research projects in the future. She says her experience with the Department of Energy Mentorship for Environmental Scholars Program was a memorable one and she recommends it for individuals of all majors. She is very thankful to be given the opportunity to build valuable relationships and experience such vast personal growth. Kia Smith is ecstatic to be a part of the Mentorship for Environmental Scholars' family!

Kenya Webb

Setting a positive foundation for my 9 siblings and my family has always played a part in my quest for success, but the driving force in everything I do has always been to find something I am utterly passionate about. It was in the fifth grade at Whitley Elementary where I was introduced to the way planes and rockets were designed and developed, in a program called SECME (South Eastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering). Since that very moment I've had a passion for aeronautical engineering. It wasn't until I was older that I realized I could pursue a career in mechanical engineering with the knowledge I'd learned early in my childhood. My name is Kenya Webb and I am a junior attending The Alabama A&M University. Our school's motto is "Service Is Sovereignty", and that is something that I am very keen about. Once I obtain my BS from the university, I hope to start a non-profit organization in my home community of Prichard, AL similar to the MES program. This is because of the impact the program has had on me and my development as an individual on a professional and personal level. During the internship, I was able to interact and network with mechanical engineers throughout South Carolina, meet some great friends with similar aspirations and goals as mine, and travel to places that I could have only imagined traveling to. My experience with the MES program was life changing and I would recommend this program to anyone trying to develop their career as a student. Not only because of the professional experience, but also the life experience. You're taught so many things in the process and everything learned is applicable in your adulthood in some way, in my opinion. The MES program sets foundations for amazing careers to come!

2017 Scholars

Cydney Christian

"I don't know what my calling is, but I want to be here for a bigger reason. I strive to be like the greatest people who ever lived."(Will Smith). When it came time for Cydney Christian to make that choice, Hampton University's focus on Chemical Engineering was her bigger reason.  Before she went to college, she developed a passion and love for environmental science. This stemmed from her sophomore year in high school when she had the pleasure of taking an Environmental Science class. In Cydney's senior year of her high school career, she partnered with Lisa Fantini, who is the Director of Robbin's Park, on refurbishing a courtyard at Upper Dublin High School turning it into an outdoor garden and learning classroom. Cydney was fortunate enough to present this project at the 2017 National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program.

"It was encouraging to share my experience with like-minded people who were extremely passionate about global change," she said. For Cydney, she has just begun to emerge herself in her career aspirations. She is a rising junior with a major in Chemical Engineering, currently attending Hampton University. She is looking to earn a Ph.D in Environmental Engineering with a focus in Energy after the completion of her B.S. Ultimately; she would like to start a STEM outreach program aimed at increasing science literacy in minority and disabled students. The program will focus on environmental issues and an increase in understanding of an applied problem that science can help solve.

For prospective applicants, Cydney said, "If you are considering a career associated with Environmental Science, the Mentorship for Environmental Scholars (MES) Program is for you!" Cydney has mapped a unique career path in Chemical Engineering, and being an MES Scholar has helped her to find what best suits her in the world of Engineering.

Carl Jules

Becoming an impactful engineer had always been a goal for Carl Jules from the moment he laid eyes on a robot in the 8 th grade, only 3 years after immigrating from Haiti. His challenge that year involved doing research and understanding the impact of renewable energy to our environment. He had the opportunity to represent The United States with his robotics teammates in a global competition that year in Tokyo, Japan as one of 5 US teams being chosen. From that moment on, he knew he would go on to study and become an Engineer. Highlighted in the NY Times article that year, he told the reporter "TV doesn't brighten you, the robotics team brightens you". He continued to pursue his interest in robotics as a team captain the following years and went on to study Computer Engineering at the Grove School of Engineering before transferring to Florida Atlantic University. Unfortunately, Carl never made it a priority to intern and learn from other engineers in the field until the Mentorship for Environmental Scholars program came along. He took a chance and applied for the internship sponsored by Pre-College University having seen the impact it had made on previous interns upon doing research and having spoken to the director, Clarence Brown. Carl Jules made it a priority to excel at his internship with the Department of Energy that summer and realized how his start in robotics had propelled him to work for a facility which helped clean our environment of toxic nuclear waste. Pre-College University helped him understand the value of networking and excelling in his internship to offer him opportunities he had not imagined possible prior. His work with this organization shows in his confidence level now that he can return to school having had experience in the field he is studying for daily. He is very thankful for the assistance and guidance he received throughout the summer and was even considered as a potential employee upon graduation next year at the Savannah River Site. This young man will be graduating spring of 2018 and looks forward to benefitting the environment with his knowledge and interest as a Computer Engineer. He feels there is nothing more important than to have experience in a field prior to graduating and said, "If you are an undergrad student who wants an impactful internship opportunity and fear the obstacles or challenges that may occur, the Pre-College University program is perfect for you!!" Carl aims to assist and work with the program in the future to help impact other students in need of such an opportunity the way he was impacted to help reconnect with his dreams.

Indigo Rockmore

When you invest your time, you make a goal and a decision of something that you want to accomplish that will positively impact the community. Pre- College University has made this mission known, and is currently making the positive difference in the life of Philadelphia native, Indigo Rockmore. Since earning the opportunity to join the infamous league of Mentorship for Environmental Scholars, she has made a vow along with Pre-College University and the Department of Energy to invest in herself.

Indigo Tracey Ann Rockmore's self-investment mission truly began August 11 th , 2014 when she made the decision to attend Spelman College. She made the commitment to enrich herself culturally, expound on her studies academically and service the community intuitively. After attending Spelman College for two months, she thought of challenging herself. So she enrolled in the Dual Degree Engineering Program, where she would earn a Bachelors' of Science in Chemistry from Spelman College and transfer to an engineering institution all in five years. For three years Indigo worked hard in her academics as well as in her community and earned admittance to the University of Michigan on a full-tuition scholarship. In two years Indigo will be earning her Bachelors' of Science in Engineering in Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan. Thereafter she plans on joining the mission of Teach for America to supplement urban minority youth in the Northeastern region. Upon fulfilling her commitment to Teach for America Indigo will earn a Masters in Bioengineering and attend Graduate School to explore the field of Food Science.

Along Indigo's journey, she built valuable relationships with her peers and mentors, and will forever cherish the foundation she built. Indigo's career path takes her in the research and development field of a private company. Without the support, and instilment of purpose from Pre-College University she would have not earned the wonderful opportunity to intern at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as well as learn tactics to flourish in corporate America. Indigo is now moving along a path she finds true to herself, and purposeful to others.

MES Online Application Open!

The MES Program consists of a 10 - week paid summer internship at one of several participating Department of Energy sites.

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