Helena Magazine

Helena’s Sydney Aldrich earns Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship at UA

Published 10:11 am Monday, July 3, 2023

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By LIZZIE BOWEN | Staff Writer

HELENA – Syndey Aldrich of Helena has earned the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship at the University of Alabama.

“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship application had several sections and requirements,” Aldrich said. “Some of these were GPA, resume or essay based. Since the start of my freshman year at the University of Alabama (UA), maintaining my GPA has been a priority. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in environmental pollution remediation and this scholarship presents the perfect opportunity to explore a large part of that field.”

The Hollings Scholarship Program provides successful undergraduate applicants with awards that include academic assistance up to $9,500 per year for two years of full-time study and a 10-week, full-time paid internship at a NOAA facility during the summer.

Since the program’s inception in 2005, 41 UA students have received scholarships since the program’s inception in 2005.

“I began working towards my eligibility from fairly early on,” Aldrich said. “The essay portion of the application allowed me to communicate my passion for this line of work and provide insight on activities I’ve experienced both throughout my life and at UA that shaped my career choice and desire to participate in their program. I was also able to supplement my resume by elaborating on items of applicable experience like my participation in undergraduate research in water treatment technology.”

Aldrich is a Randall Research Scholar and UA Honors College student majoring in chemical engineering. She is conducting undergraduate research in Dr. Amanda Koh’s lab on novel surfactants for high internal phase emulsion polymer foams as water treatment technology. This summer, Aldrich is working as an intern for the Alabama Power Environmental Affairs Compliance Studies Group.

“I consider my number one motivation to be developing and using my skillset to advance the science and practices that will help preserve the beauty of our planet and ensure future generations have the chance to enjoy it,” Aldrich said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up traveling across the United States to see many national and state parks, and I want to help make sure people can still enjoy nature as I have without the fear of pollution ruining their experience.”

Aldrich is a member of the UA American Institute of Chemical Engineers and UA Forest Stewards Guild and was recently named an Outstanding Sophomore in the Randall Research Scholars Program. Additionally, she participates in Randall Research Scholars intramural sports and the UA fencing club.

“When I was younger I definitely did not picture myself in this position,” Aldrich said. “I often changed my mind on what I wanted my future to look like. However, I always knew I had a love for the sciences.”

Aldrich has always had very strong aspirations and dreams since she was a young child, and said her dreams weren’t always specifically to go into science.

“The earliest I remember, I wanted to be a veterinarian,” Aldrich said. “I changed my mind briefly to marine biology, then botany, and stuck with phytopathology for a couple years—the study of plant diseases. I finally landed on chemical engineering in high school when I was exposed to higher level chemistry.”

The UA Office of External Scholarships and Fellowships assists students in the pursuit of national and international awards including the Hollings, Goldwater, Rhodes and Boren, among others. Students interested in applying for awards that require an institutional endorsement can learn more on the External Scholarships and Fellowships website.

Aldrich also shared some about where she sees herself in five year’s time after receiving this scholarship.

“In five years, I see myself completing my degree in chemical engineering and moving on to work in research and development for treating water, or other environmental areas, of various pollutants,” Aldrich said. “I’m still exploring what this might look like for me as a specific job, but I’m currently working in as an intern for the Alabama Power Environmental Affairs Compliance Studies Group to learn how this type of work looks in industry. There is an internship opportunity with NOAA as part of the Hollings Scholarship that I will be able to partake in next summer to explore the federal side of this work area as well.”

Aldrich has many people to thank as she gains success and moves forward in her journey, but her family has remained number one.

“My family has always been incredibly supportive of my academic endeavors and has always been there to cheer me on,” Aldrich said. “They were all so happy for me and made sure I knew how proud they are of me. I’ve made some really great friends at UA, and they too were very excited for me. I feel very blessed to be surrounded by such great people who make me feel so loved.”