Terence Freitas Award in Environmental Studies

Terry Freitas, a UCSC graduate in biology and environmental studies, with an U'wa child in Columbia where he was working to make a culturally appropriate school.
Terence Freitas, a biology and environmental studies major, graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1997. An active member of Crown College, whose core course he helped redesign, Terry was involved with numerous campus activities, including working with the rape-prevention program and teaching women's self-defense classes.

Terry Freitas dedicated himself to facilitating the vision of native groups working to build a sustainable future in harmony with their own values and cultures. He was at once soft spoken, articulate, wryly humorous, and very intense. He cared deeply about his work, and he was committed to using his increasingly strong skills for the betterment of indigenous societies. Terry was a key activist in an effort to halt plans of major oil companies to drill in territory occupied by the U'wa, a Colombian indigenous group. He helped establish the U'wa Defense Working Group, a coalition of several environmental organizations, brought an U'wa leader to the U.S. for several speaking engagements, and led demonstrations at Occidental Petroleum Company headquarters in Los Angeles. Terry collaborated with the U'wa for five years in efforts to preserve their culture.

In February 1999, while working with the U'wa to establish a culturally appropriate school, Terry and two other Americans were kidnapped and killed by a rebel group. He was 24 years old when he died.

 In choosing to honor Freitas, who exemplified "the highest UCSC ideals of service to others," the Alumni Association made its first posthumous award.

In January 2000, Terence Freitas was honored posthumously with the UC Santa Cruz Alumni Achievement Award. The award recognized that the selfless devotion represented by Terry's work with the U'wa characterized the highest UCSC ideals of service to others. Terence Freitas dedicated himself to making a positive difference in the world, and he died living his convictions.

In 2001 major contributions from the Michael and Patricia Gold family and Terry's grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Shelley, along with contributions from numerous other relatives and friends, established the Terence Freitas Award in Environmental Studies. This award gives support to undergraduates majoring in environmental studies. Qualifications for this need-based award are intended to be broadly defined, in the interest of making it accessible to a wide range of environmental studies students. However, emphasis is given to Terence Freitas's interest in and commitment to indigenous peoples in developing countries. Consideration is also given to students whose studies are related to conservation or rainforest preservation.

For more information about this scholarship, please contact the academic support coordinator in the Environmental Studies Department by telephone (831) 459-4136, email or visit the department’s website.

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