Monday, June 10, 2024

UTSA’s first Hollings scholar secures internship with NOAA to prepare for career in atmospheric science

UTSA’s first Hollings scholar secures internship with NOAA to prepare for career in atmospheric science

JUNE 10, 2024 — UTSA Honors College student and environmental science major Mitchell Foster has been selected for the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Foster is the first UTSA student to be named a Hollings scholar and one of just 130 undergraduates in the country to receive the award this year.

As a Hollings scholar, Foster will receive up to $9,500 per year for two years to support his undergraduate education at UTSA as well as a full-time paid summer internship with NOAA and funding to participate in two national scientific conferences.

NOAA established the award to support the training of undergraduates in the oceanic and atmospheric sciences, and to encourage these students toward scientific careers with NOAA or with government agencies at the federal, state and local levels. The goal is that as these students enter the workforce, they will increase the public’s understanding of and stewardship for the ocean.

“My biggest motivation is to work in a field that allows me to focus on atmospheric science, meteorology or conservation of resources.”

Prior to applying to the scholarship, Foster participated in the UTSA Citymester program, a signature experiential learning initiative in the Honors College. Citymester trains students to secure professional opportunities by offering them guidance in areas such as resume creation and interview skills. Throughout the summer program, UTSA students work with community partners in internships and service learning-projects and learn from business and community leaders during site visits across San Antonio.

During Citymester, Foster interned at the San Antonio Zoo and conducted a service project at Cibolo Creek Nature Preserve. At the zoo, Foster worked mainly with birds, learning how to care for them, the environments they needed to thrive, and how they interacted with the public. At Cibolo Creek Nature Preserve, he helped with groundskeeping, including environmentally friendly and geographically appropriate landscaping, helping to run their farmers market, and public education programs.

Participating in Citymester helped prepare Foster to apply for the Hollings award, said Kristi Meyer, assistant dean of special programs in the Honors College.

“The Citymester program helps students land first time internships and gain experience and sets them up for the exact kind of success Mitchell has found with the Hollings Undergraduate Research Scholarship,” Meyer said. “We work with students on sharpening their professional portfolios and incorporating job skills, service and leadership into the overall set of skills they can offer future employers.”

Foster’s scholarship begins this summer with a week-long orientation in Washington D.C., where he and the other scholars will learn about NOAA’s work, network with the organization’s leadership and staff, tour its facilities, and hear about some of the research topics that could be available for their summer internships. Foster will continue his coursework at UTSA during the 2024-2025 school year, and then participate in a 10-week internship at NOAA facility in the summer of 2025. 

“My studies have and will continue to teach me about climate, weather, ocean and coasts. But a large part of my academics has been about communicating effectively to share information with others,” Foster said. “My biggest motivation is to work in a field that allows me to focus on atmospheric science, meteorology or conservation of resources. NOAA’s mission of understanding climate and weather, sharing knowledge with others, and managing ecosystems and resources is a large part of both my academic and career goals.”

Learn about these and other national scholarship and award opportunities available to all students by visiting the UTSA Office of Nationally Competitive Awards.
Explore the programs offered by the Honors College, including UTSA Citymester, that are open to all students who want to expand their leadership and professional skills, public service, and research to increase their career-readiness.

Foster hopes that by winning the Hollings award, he will inspire other students to get out of their comfort zone and apply for the Hollings Scholarship or other awards in their field of study. 

In addition to the Hollings Scholarship, the NOAA Office of Education also sponsors the José E. Serrano Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI)Undergraduate Scholarship Program. This award also provides NOAA research experience through two 10-week summer internships and up to $45,000 in support for two years to undergraduate students at MSIs majoring in NOAA-mission fields.

Drew Chapman

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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