Marion Boulicault of London, a junior at UNC, was studying abroad in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam when she heard the news.
She had been chosen by the Morris K. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Foundation in Tucson, Ariz., as one of 80 Udall Scholars for 2009. The recipients were chosen recently from among 515 candidates nominated by 233 colleges and universities nationwide.
Congress authorized the Udall Foundation in 1992 to honor the late congressman from Arizona. A trust fund in the U.S. Treasury and private contributions support the foundation. Udall, who served in the U.S. House for 30 years, advocated environmental conservation and championed the rights of American Indians and Alaska natives.
Each year, the foundation chooses scholars for commitment to careers in the environment or, for American Indian and Alaskan native applicants, commitment to careers in health care or tribal public policy. Scholars also must demonstrate leadership potential and academic achievement.
Boulicault’s award brings the number of Udall Scholarships awarded to Carolina students to 13 since the awards began in 1996. The award will cover tuition, books, room and board up to $5,000 for Boulicault’s senior year. She hopes to go on to earn a master’s degree in environmental management and a law degree.
“I aspire to become an expert in environmental law and to work as an advocate for indigenous peoples and other minority groups,” she said. “Inspired by my work on issues of sustainability and quality of life in conjunction with Native Americans, I hope to be a leading advocate for indigenous communities on environmental issues across the world.”
Boulicault (pronounced “BOO-li-coe”) is an environmental science major who graduated from the Henrietta Barnett School in London in 2006 and came to UNC on a Morehead-Cain Scholarship.
Boulicault hopes the Udall will allow her to fund a ninth semester at UNC so that she can earn a second major, in philosophy. This semester, she is studying abroad at Can Tho University in Vietnam, where she also is studying water rights issues along the Mekong.
This summer, as one of her Morehead-Cain enrichment experiences, Boulicault will collect data in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.
“My project will look at case studies of different conservation management strategies across Southeast Asia and analyze the relationship between ecological conservation objectives and local development needs,” she said. “On returning to Chapel Hill, I will hope to use the data collected as a basis for an undergraduate honors thesis.”
Boulicault is on UNC’s varsity fencing team and the Atlantic Coast Conference Honor Roll for academic excellence by student athletes. She is on track to graduate from UNC as a public service scholar, meaning that she will have performed at least 300 hours of community service while in college.
With UNC’s APPLES service learning program (Assisting People in Planning Learning Experiences in Service), Boulicault organized and led a winter break service trip to American Indian communities in Robeson County for a week in December. UNC students held workshops for more than 200 Indian students and worked with the Lumbee Tribe Boys and Girls Clubs to expand their environmental education program.
Related coverage is available online: