Over the past year, Florida State University students have been the recipients of numerous prestigious awards, including Rhodes, Truman and Goldwater scholarships. Now the Morris K. Udall Scholarship can be added to that impressive list of student accomplishments.
Ashley Danley, a junior from Cape Coral, Fla., who is double-majoring in environmental engineering and civil engineering, this month became the first Florida State student in 13 years to win the Udall scholarship, which is given to college undergraduates who are working to preserve and protect their national heritage through studies in the environment. With the scholarship, she will receive up to $5,000 for tuition, room and board, or other educational expenses, as well as a trip to a four-day Udall Scholars Orientation in Tucson, Ariz., to meet with other scholarship winners, elected officials, environmental and tribal leaders.
One of Danley’s key interests is in developing sanitation systems and providing safe drinking water for developing countries — Haiti in particular. To that end, she founded the group "Dare to Love: Project Haiti" (www.daretoloveprojecthaiti.org), members of which plan to travel to that impoverished country this summer and work to improve the water quality in two small villages. The students also plan to be involved in the construction of a school building; the introduction of an in-ground cistern; the assembly of a windmill for the transportation of water; and the installation of a solar-powered light that will afford schoolchildren a place to read and study after dark.
"Ashley exemplifies the spirit of an environmental and civil engineer," said Amy Chan Hilton, an associate professor of environmental engineering who has worked closely with Danley. "Not only does she excel in the classroom as a dual major in environmental engineering and civil engineering, but Ashley has pursued her passion for making a positive impact in people’s lives through her technical expertise.
"I expect that Ashley will be a leader in the environmental engineering field and will serve areas of great need," Hilton said. "We are so proud of Ashley and know that she will represent the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Florida State well as a Udall Scholar."
In addition to Danley, another Florida State University student was chosen as an Honorable Mention by the Morris K. Udall Foundation. Brandy Saffell, a junior from Tampa, Fla., who is double-majoring in international affairs and anthropology, will receive a one-time honorarium of $350.
"We are thrilled to have Ashley and Brandy recognized by the Udall Foundation," said Meredith Simpson, the interim director of Florida State’s Office of National Fellowships, which helps students pursue nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships. "Their research and work will make a difference in countless lives all over the world."
Out of 515 applicants nationwide, the Morris K. Udall Foundation chose 50 scholarship winners and 80 honorable mentions.
Prior to Danley, only one other Florida State student had won a Udall scholarship. Teresa M. Vargas accomplished that feat in 1996.
Established by the U.S. Congress in 1992, the Morris K. Udall Foundation (www.udall.gov) honors the 30-year legacy of public service of its namesake, a longtime U.S. representative from Arizona who died in 1998. The foundation "seeks future leaders across a wide spectrum of environmental fields, including policy, engineering, science, education, urban planning and renewal, business, health, justice, and economics. The Foundation also seeks future Native American and Alaska Native leaders in public and community health care, tribal government, and public policy affecting Native American communities, including land and resource management, economic development, and education."