Erica Berry ’14 is one of just 50 college sophomores and juniors around the country who has been named a 2013 Udall Scholar. One of the criteria for students receiving the $5,000 Udall scholarship is a commitment to the environment.
Berry, an English and environmental studies major, describes in her Udall application that she strives to “write narrative nonfiction about the intersections between the ever-shifting environment and humanity.” She points out that scientific developments on their own can be futile in prompting action. “The last decade has shown us that scientific fact alone cannot incite change, but I believe that narratives illuminating science, history and the stories of those people directly affected by environmental change can.”
For the past two years, Berry has been a Sarah and James Bowdoin Scholar, and in 2010 she was a Bowdoin Faculty Scholar. She served as executive editor of the Bowdoin Orient last fall and managing editor the previous spring.
Over spring break last year, Berry traveled to Vietnam with a PBS documentarian, helping to video interviews for a series on the Vietnam War. Berry says this experience, and the story she wrote about taking a trip down a jungle canal, helped cement her commitment to environmentalism. “Science alone may not convince first-world citizens of global warming’s immediacy, but a story about its effects for the Delta’s people may help. Unless we act, our legacy in Vietnam will be both flooded homes and the shells of our tanks.”
Berry, who is studying abroad in Scotland this semester, has also interned in the communications department of the environmental NGO Oceana, which has offices in Portland, Maine.
This year, the 50 Udall Scholars were selected from 488 candidates nominated by 230 colleges and universities. The Udall Foundation is an independent federal agency established by Congress in 1992 to provide federally funded scholarships for college students intending to pursue careers related to the environment, as well as to American Indian students pursuing tribal public policy or health care careers.