Major/Minor: Environmental Science/Management
Graduation Year: 2014
Hometown: Montrose, Colorado
AC: How did you collaborate with Professor Langlois, and eventually have the opportunity to complete this fellowship?
JV: Dr.Gaytha Langlois played an instrumental role in securing my nomination from Bryant University for a Clean Energy Solutions Fellowship from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Without Dr. Gaytha Langlois’s involvement and passion, I can honestly say this opportunity would have never been possible.
Initially, Dr. Langlois sent an email with a short description of the fellowship and link to all biology and environmental science majors and minors. I expressed interest in pursuing the application process. We collaborated on proposal ideas in a brainstorming session by discussing the various items of the proposal process including short and long term goals, purpose of the project, and participation and support. She provided innovative and thought provoking suggestions to increase the effectiveness of the proposal. As my faculty advisor, we will continue to collaborate and work together in the hopes of facilitating the installation of solar panels in Bryant University’s outdoor lamp posts. The campus ecology fellowship is an ongoing fifteen month process which began on May 15th 2013.
AC: How does a fellowship differ from an internship?
JV: Fellowships and internships have slight differences. Typically, fellowships are research and project related. Students may be paid a stipend or grant for completion of their project. Students have much autonomy to work on their projects and can work remotely with the organization-checking in through conference calls, emails, and updated reports. Fellowships give students added experience in their field of interest or passion. Through a fellowship, fellows have time to hone their abilities, develop a community based initiative, and have an opportunity to pursue a field of interest.
In contrast, an internship is an opportunity to work within a business or organization that you would otherwise need a degree to hold a position in. Internships offer students an opportunity to develop practical, marketable experience in their field that integrates practice with theory. Internships help students identify their career goals and discover the realities of the job market.
Both internships and fellowships furnish students with positive attributes for their future job search. Individuals with either experience gain an opportunity to connect with professionals working in their fields of interest.
AC: We love the idea behind “No Light Left Behind” but we don’t know too much about it! Can you explain what this project is and how you came up with it?
JV: The idea behind “No Light Left Behind” originated from my passion for renewable energy sources and sustainability. After reading the project focus areas of the clean energy fellowship which include: coordinating campaign activities to demonstrate support for renewable energy projects or policies, solar energy, geothermal, and transit or cleaner fleets, the idea of using solar power to increase renewable energy stood out. Walking around Bryant University, I noticed the sheer number of outdoor lights all of which could be powered by small solar photovoltaic units placed on top of the lampposts. The name of “No Light Left Behind”, was devised from viewing these lights every day and thinking of a better way to power the Bryant community.
The project involves numerous components over the fifteen month period. This project will encompass the installation of small photovoltaic panels on top of all lamp posts on Bryant University’s campus. This project represents a visible manifestation of Bryant University’s commitment to the sustainability plan and provides a wonderful opportunity for the university to gain positive publicity. In order to ensure project completion and successfulness, the project will undergo multiple phases all of which will need support and help from the Bryant community. Activities include: increasing awareness, conducting site assessments of lampposts, a cost benefit analysis to prove feasibility, contacting local suppliers, establishing relationships, contacting experts, event publication, and implementation of photovoltaic solar panels.
The following Gantt Chart outlines the project process:
AC: One of the most important resources a leader can have in today’s business world is “support”. How can the Bryant community support you in this fellowship?
JV: I could not agree more with your statement. Bryant community’s support will prove pivotal in the project process. Having support from the Bryant University Department of Science and Technology has helped initiate the project process. Many thanks go to Professors Langlois and McNally for providing me with letters of recommendation for the clean energy solutions fellowship. The Department of Science and Technology will further help by providing the most up to date information on green, sustainable technologies and policy making strategies. I will communicate with the facilities department in the hopes of them providing important information regarding the installation, maintenance, and establishment of Bryant University’s outdoor light fixtures. I will seek information from Professors in the College of Business for knowledge on cost accounting and financial planning. The Office of Business Affairs has also shown support for this project.
Influential organizations such as Bryant University’s Sustainability Committee and Scientific Community Initiative have already shown support of this project by providing letters of nomination. My eventual cost analysis/feasibility report will be presented to the sustainability committee. For any students passionate about science, renewable energy, or just have a general interest in the project are free to contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If any individuals have any further ideas to increase project effectiveness they should not hesitate to reach out to me for collaboration.
AC: What is your favorite aspect of this project? What is most challenging?
JV: My favorite aspect of this project involves bringing in the greater Bryant community. I love that I will have the opportunity to collaborate with individuals working in all positions in the university. I believe each individual I collaborate with has a unique and valuable perspective on this project process. I hope to integrate all of these ideas into a synthesized whole. The most challenging part of the process will be collecting all of the information in the time frame allotted whilst studying for classes, playing on the tennis team, and other various activities.
AC: What, at Bryant, has prepared you the most for this fellowship?
JV: Without a doubt, Bryant University has helped prepared me for this fellowship. Various classes in my major such as green technology for sustainability, environmental policy for decision making, physics, and chemistry have pushed me to think outside of the box and come up with creative solutions to problems. Professors Gaytha Langlois, Dan McNally, Christopher Reid and Brian Blais have always supported all my endeavors, helped me when I needed guidance most, and shown a passion for learning which is contagious. Working as a laboratory research assistant in the Laboratory for Terrestrial Environments for the past two years under Professors Hong Yang and Qin Leng has expanded my scientific knowledge beyond what I ever thought possible. Professor Qin Leng further advised me on establishing a herbarium at Bryant University similar to the project process for, “No Light Left Behind”.
Professor James Segovis prepared me for this fellowship by cultivating my management skills and his Management 200 class influenced my decision to pursue a minor in business management. He effectively taught me how to enjoyably work on teams with others. Working with Professor Hasseler on a publication on the educational uses of blogging has also helped prepare me by allowing me to strategize the best ways of presenting information. Playing on the women’s tennis team under head Coach Barbara Cilli, has greatly helped develop my teamwork, focus, and communication. She has always been there with support and encouragement including this fellowship. Amy Weinstein from the Amica Center has always been there to lend a helping hand and is one of the most enthusiastic and happy people I know. She has provided many resources catering to increasing awareness of this project. The Amica Center has aided me in all of my efforts. I would like to thank all who have shown support and who have helped prepare me for this fellowship
AC: Any advice for students in your major?
JV: For any student in my major, I can say that with hard work, commitment, and dedication, your goals are possible. Take advantage of every opportunity presented and cherish the value of our education that Bryant University has given us. From experience, it is obvious there is a need for more environmental science majors in the work environment. This major is growing and if you stick with it, the opportunities will be limitless.
AC: Lastly, where do you see yourself in five years?
JV: I see myself graduating from Bryant University in May of 2014 and continuing on to graduate school for a master of science in environmental studies or sustainability management. I am unsure of where I will apply but am very excited for what the future holds!