Money doesn’t grow on trees, even at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, but this fall a number of environment school students will be benefiting from some extra cash.
The Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation awarded three fellowships to master’s students at the school, and the GE Foundation recently approved a $100,000 grant for scholarships, allowing the scholars program at the environment school to continue into its third year.
The GE Foundation grant is one of the ways in which Dean Gustave Speth’s fundraising goals at the environment school have come to fruition. The school, which has an annual tuition of $23,850 for master’s students, cannot guarantee that it will meet the demonstrated financial need of every student it matriculates. Speth pledged to tackle this problem when he was reappointed dean of the school last fall.
Seventy-five percent of the environment school’s 260 master’s students currently receive some sort of grant or loan, which adds up to $1.5 million annually. The GE Foundation grant is a small part of this, but for the six students who will be benefiting from it this year, it allows them to attend the environment school.
“[With the scholarship] you can focus on your studies, and you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to make ends meet,” Drena Howard FES ’05 SOM ’06, one of last year’s recipients, said. “Without the scholarship we wouldn’t be here.”
The recent $100,000 grant will be used as scholarship money for next fall’s incoming students, who will be the third cohort to benefit from the program.
“It’s a joint program where we both cover expenses and tuition for the students,” Matt DeCamara, GE foundation program director said. “The first grant was three students. Depending on need and what Yale can provide, hopefully the money can be stretched to provide for at least five students.”
DeCamara said the grants are intended to help disadvantaged students and support efforts to attract more diverse talent. Each $100,00 grant is disbursed over a two-year period so that funding is provided for the full length of the recipient’s master’s degree.
The $13,000 Switzer Fellowships are independent of the $1.5 million that the environment school provides in financial aid, but they, nonetheless, help to make an environment school degree possible for three students. Executive Director Lissa Widoff said the Switzer Foundation hopes to support the academic studies of emerging environmental leaders.
“We are interested in a broad range of environmental issues,” Widoff said. “People can be working on everything from forest conservation, to energy efficiencyl to business and environment interactions as long as they’re building expertise in a field where they can imagine themselves having a positive environmental impact.”
Each year the foundation recognizes 10 students from New England and 10 from California with three of this year’s New England fellowships going to Yale students. Director of Career Development Peter Otis said while the number of fellowships awarded to Yale students fluctuates each year, it is not unusual for a high number of Yale students to receive recognition from the Switzer Foundation. He attributes this success to the school’s “highly talented and focused” students. Widoff said Yale does a good job of providing qualified candidates.
In addition to the financial award, the Switzer Fellowship also provides a unique program of networking and mentoring, Widoff said. Andrea Johnson FES ’05, one of the recipients, said she was particularly excited about the networking opportunities this fellowship provided, echoing the comments of her fellow winners.
“The thing that I’ve learned in my professional career is that the people that you know really makes a difference about the kind of work that you do and the kind of impact that you get to make,” Radha Kuppalli FES SOM ’06 said. “The more people who have the kinds of knowledge that I need, the better equipped I am to tackle the problems that I care about and help me fill in the blanks about the things I don’t know everything about.”
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