Madeline MoralesA Top Scholar Improves Social and Geographical Environments from Texas to Thailand

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The University of Texas at San Antonio junior environmental science student, Madeline Morales, is already affecting positive change in the communities of San Antonio and across the world. With her high level of enthusiasm for advocacy work and scholastic dedication, she received the honor of becoming a UTSA Top Scholar, which has afforded her the opportunity to attend UTSA at no cost. Morales was also among the first class of students to be awarded the United Nations affiliated, a leadership development program that has allowed her to take her social impact ideas to the next level.

Originally a computer science major, Morales found herself wanting to follow her deep passion for activism to eventually work in sustainability and climate change. She made the switch to major in environmental science and is now focusing her studies on environmental justice and advocating for minority communities who are disproportionately impacted by the negative effects of pollution and changing weather patterns. She is also concentrating on how to help developing countries across the world that do not directly contribute to climate change, but are the first and hardest to be hit by its adverse consequences.

“Climate change doesn't affect everyone equally. In fact, Hispanic communities are much more likely to have landfills built near their homes and suffer from more pollution in the air. With the injustices surrounding the community where I was raised, I felt like I had to do something,” Morales expressed.

As an academic peer coach, a 2020 Millennium fellow, a 2021-2022 Millennium Fellowship campus director, and a former volunteer at the Smith Ornithology Lab and the FVPS Battered Women and Children's Shelter, Morales has been incredibly involved in extracurricular activities both on and off campus throughout her UTSA experience. In the fall of 2021, she created a sustainability organization that works on climate action, Plant the Future. Through her organization, she provides opportunities for other college students who want to make a difference. The students involved with Plant the Future partner with the City of San Antonio to help distribute trees at no cost to the community. So far, her organization has planted approximately 3,000 trees across the Greater San Antonio region.

I will always be grateful to UTSA for the financial support I have received. I couldn't accomplish what I have without it.

“Being a Top Scholar has really taken a huge weight off my shoulders. I don't ever have to worry or think about money and I can really spend all of my time on my classes, passion projects, and everything else that I'm involved with,” she said.

With study abroad experiences highly encouraged and completely funded by UTSA's Top Scholars program, Morales spent Summer 2022 in Chiang Mai, Thailand as an intern for The Life Skills Development Foundation that helps to improve the quality of life for underserved children and their families in Northern Thailand. In this role, she primarily assisted in writing grants for the Pediatric and Family Cardiac Treatment Assistance Program (PFCP) which funds patients in impoverished communities who have structural heart diseases.

Following her graduation in the spring of 2023, Morales plans on attending graduate school to receive her Master's degree in sustainability. Her ultimate goal is to become a director of sustainability for a big corporation to help lessen their environmental footprint.

“I will always be grateful to UTSA for the financial support I have received. I couldn't accomplish what I have without it.”

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