What they gained, what's next: 2022 EPP/MSI undergraduate scholar reflections

When the 2022 class of EPP/MSI undergraduate scholars started their internships, they expected to clarify their career goals, build their research skills, and develop a professional network. At their graduation ceremony, the scholars shared that the program did more than that — it led to personal growth and changed their lives.

Ten young adults in business casual clothing pose outside.

The 2022 class of EPP/MSI scholars during their scholarship orientation. From left to right, Christian Schnell, Courtney White, Martin Gonzalez, Alison Novara, Ingrid Martinson, Kiah Matthews, Michaela Wong, Hailey Poole, Richarde Graham II, and Alexandria Tennant. (Image credit: Elvis Efamba/Office of Education)

At the EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship Program (USP) graduation ceremony on May 22, 2024, the 2022 class of scholars celebrated and reflected upon their experience with NOAA. They shared future plans and bittersweet reflections with their peers.

“This program completely changed the direction of my life. I wouldn’t be going to graduate school without this program,” said Alison Novara, “I met so many people and made great connections. I’m sad that it’s over, but I love everyone in the program.” Many of the scholars echoed this sentiment and shared their own evolution as a person and as a young scientist. Read their reflections and career plans below.

Though the program provided opportunities for the scholars, they each charted their own path for a successful experience. Following each scholar’s reflection, Natasha White, EPP/MSI USP program manager, read goal statements they wrote in 2022. Through this process, the scholars affirmed that the program provided the opportunity to grow in the ways that they’d hoped — those who expected to clarify career paths during the program did so, and those who wanted to learn more about research or develop a professional network also met their goals. 

The scholars closed by sharing advice with the new class of scholars on how to get the most out of the program. They all emphasized the importance of making connections at NOAA, learning from as many people as they could, and using the opportunity to identify their career goals. Or, as alumnus Martin Gonzalez put it, “Find the joy in your work and keep chasing that joy. You may find a career you never thought of.”

Scholar reflections and future plans

UPDATED: June 13, 2024. Update to Christian Schnell's career status.