In Their Words: Leslie Anne Madarang

Name: Leslie Anne MadarangLeslie madarang

Department: Environmental Studies

What Scholarship or Award did you receive? Richard A. Cooley Scholarship

What year are you (1st year, 3rd year)? 2nd year, 3rd year standing

College: Kresge College

Where do you call home? Earlimart, California

What is your field of focus? Environmental Sociology, Policy and Economics focusing in food security and industrial agriculture, sustainable development and renewable energy, and sustainable products and organic food.

With all of the choices for college, what made UC Santa Cruz stand out? Breathing in the fresh air made me decide to attend Santa Cruz. I come from Earlimart, a small impoverished town in the San Joaquin Valley. This rural, agriculturally-dependent area is prone to toxic fumes from methane gas from cows, pesticide spraying, ammonia from fertilizer and manure, etc. Santa Cruz offered the exact opposite and provided me with opportunites that I knew I can bring back home.

What do you hope to do once you graduate from UC Santa Cruz? I hope to environemtally improve the living space, lifestyle, and health of people who have grown up in conditions similar to the vulnerable conditions I grew up in.

What is one memorable moment that stands out for you as a student here? There was a point in time during my freshman year when I was going through a hardship that was too much for me to handle. I remember I questioned my existence and wondered why I was even in college. My roommate walked in the midst of all the emotion and kneeled down to comfort me. She made me realize my worth. She reminded me of my resilience to be able to find success outside from a town with low-opportunities. This moment made me realize why I needed to attain a higher education. Since I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to go to college, I knew I needed to continue to succeed so that I can be able to help those who weren’t as fortunate as I was. This moment made me realize my purpose in life.

How will this scholarship/award impact your academic life/research? This scholarship will help me fund for my current initiative to Ban Styrofoam in Earlimart, California. The purpose of the campaign is to phase out the use of Styrofoam in the town I grew up in. My vision is to make Earlimart a green community. Although Styrofoam is just one of the reoccurring problems in the town, I hope this initiative can create a chain reaction throughout the whole community. Maybe one day, it can also inspire other impoverished towns to strive for a greener and healthier environment.

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