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2018 Fellowships Graduation Award

June 7, 2018

Congratulations to Vincent O'Leary, recipient of Drexel's 2018 Fellowships Graduation Award! 

The Center for Scholar Development encourages and supports students who seek to expand their horizons and reach for something bigger. We also hope students will reflect on why they do the things they do, about the choices that they make and the things that matter to them. The Fellowships Graduation Award recognizes a graduating Honors Program student who has contributed to this way of thinking and the broader fellowships culture at Drexel.

Vincent O’Leary (BS Environmental Science '18, Honors) first came to our attention as a promising student leader, serving as President of Drexel Smart House and working with Dr. Ted Daeschler and key stakeholders to develop a community-based course on urban ecology and the Schuylkill River. He also happened to be a successful environmental science student and researcher, with plans to pursue an academic research career.

During the process of applying for two major scholarships in his sophomore year, Vince began to reflect on how to integrate these elements of himself – his skills as an environmental scientist and passion for science outreach and service – into a satisfying educational and professional path. Vince drew on his experiences and the insights he gained through the application process to apply for two additional fellowships the following year. With each application, he continued to reflect upon and question his purpose and goals as a citizen and scientist.  

His efforts have paid off in a number of ways. In addition to being awarded the Udall and NOAA Hollings scholarships for his commitment to environmental research and service, Vince is the first (and only) student in Drexel history to receive the highly-prestigious Truman Scholarship. The experiences, training, and communities Vince has gained as a Truman, Udall, and Hollings scholar have clarified and reinforced his desire to become a publicly-engaged and politically-informed scientist. Vince has demonstrated resilience and resourcefulness in the pursuit of his goals, securing a grant to help public school students participate in science fairs, assisting with a large-scale projects to digitize and create virtual portals to explore specimen collections, and through data refuge and science communication projects in the community.

In addition to his many achievements, Vince has demonstrated strong personal character and commitment to supporting others. When he received disappointing results, he never gave up or lost sight of what is important: his passion for using data to help promote public understanding of and appreciation for the world around us. Despite a demanding schedule of coursework, research, and outreach, Vince has been an incredible advocate for fellowships at Drexel. Vince talks openly about his experiences, offers advice, and encourages other students to pursue their highest aspirations. As a result, we regularly see students who Vince has referred to our office, whether it is to apply for a fellowship or for an initial conversation about how to clarify one’s goals and educational plans.

As a participant in the 2018 Truman Summer Institute, Vince will spend the summer working under the National Science and Technology Council Committee on the Environment, which coordinates interagency efforts related climate-related federal policy and strategy. Vince will be working with Dr. Dave Reidmiller on the 4th National Climate Assessment at the US Global Change Research Program and with Dr. Reid Sherman to provide access to federal climate data through the Global Change Information System. We are confident that he will make the most of this incredible experience and will explore any new paths and opportunities it brings.

This fall, Vince will return home to Wheeling, WV to marry his high school sweetheart and plans to give back to the community through science outreach and education programs before pursuing a graduate degree combining public policy, data science, and research.

We are incredibly happy for him. For all of his accomplishments and embodiment of fellowships culture, we celebrate Vince with our Fellowships Graduation Award.