By Gail Wootan, Assistant Director.
Every year, Evergreen scholarship recipients are celebrated amid frosted cupcakes and white tablecloths at a reception to honor their hard work. On January 12, 2014, one of our very own took the stage to thank the donors who are making her degree possible. Krystle Keese, a second year MES student who was awarded two fellowships this year, was asked to speak about how these fellowships are helping her meet her goals.
As the recipient of the Soule Family Fellowship and The Evergreen State College Endowment Fellowship, Krystle shared how her journey from corporate America (Chevron) to Evergreen’s verdant campus came to be, and why Evergreen “has been the perfect path” as she wends her way toward becoming an environmental professional. In the audience was Oscar Soule, one of the founders of the MES degree in 1984. He and his wife started the Soule Family Fellowship in 2011 – Krystle is the third recipient.
The Graduate Program on the Environment offers more than $170,000 in non-loan financial aid every year to both new and continuing MES students. Awards are both based on merit and need. Continuing students, like Krystle, who are awarded merit-based scholarships and fellowships are chosen by MES faculty for their academic accomplishments. First year students with merit are chosen based on their application to the program. Students who demonstrate high need are also assisted to some degree.
On average, more than 75% of MES students who apply for MES awards receive some kind of non-loan aid. Of those who apply for MES financial aid, 95% of nonresidents and 70% of residents are awarded. The average award for nonresidents typically covers 22% of nonresident tuition and the average award for residents usually covers 37% of tuition. Residents have the added bonus of being eligible for the Evergreen Need Grant, which is a $2,700 yearly grant (funded by a percentage of tuition every year) awarded to the neediest of graduate students.
A number of students also receive research grants and fellowships throughout the year. For example, MES students are usually heavily represented on the list of Evergreen’s Student Foundation Activity Grant recipients every Winter and Spring. Another way we support students is through helping them find paying jobs and internships with state agencies, local nonprofits, and Evergreen offices. The Sustainability in Prisons Project has been well-staffed by MES students for the past several years.
MES has been fortunate to have 30 years of amazing students like Krystle – we have also been fortunate to have donors who support these students. If you are interested in helping the next generation of environmental professionals, consider donating to the Sara Ann Bilezikian Memorial Fellowship – this fellowship offers a full-ride to one very deserving MES student a year. Maybe one day, we will be able to give a full-ride to all of our students!