Azel wins KLWA’s Joan Irish Award

SASHA AZEL, a recent graduate of Fryeburg Academy, won the Kezar Lake Watershed Association’s Joan Irish Award this year. She is pictured here receiving the award from Sue Lanser of the Kezar Lake Watershed Association.

SASHA AZEL, a recent graduate of Fryeburg Academy, won the Kezar Lake Watershed Association’s Joan Irish Award this year. She is pictured here receiving the award from Sue Lanser of the Kezar Lake Watershed Association.

LOVELL — Sasha Azel of Center Lovell is the 2013 recipient of the Kezar Lake Watershed Association’s Joan Irish award.

Sasha graduated from Fryeburg Academy this summer, and is attending Virginia Tech in the fall to major in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Each year, the Joan Irish Award honors a local student who has shown a serious interest in the environment, and who intends to pursue environmental studies. The winner is selected by the local high schools from among their top-graduating seniors.

Sasha grew up in Lovell, the daughter of photographer Jose Azel and Lovell librarian Anna Romer. Her favorite outdoor activities include hiking, kayaking/paddle boarding, and of course tennis. She says that her Maine country childhood has deeply affected her outlook on life.

“It’s really spoiled me actually. I’ve grown up knowing nothing but fresh air and crystal waters. I think that’s another reason I'm interested in environmental studies, because everyone should be able to experience this. Especially generations to come,” she said. She added, “My mother grew up in Holland, and my grandparents grew up in Cuba. This has definitely given me a broader perspective of the world. It's given me the chance to travel and see so many different life styles. It’s shown me how the environment and culture are directly linked.”

Sasha started focusing on environmental classes her sophomore year when she took environmental chemistry. It was a month-long class at the end of the year.

“I only took it because I had enjoyed chemistry that same year and I liked the teacher, it's the class that made me decide that the environment was something I wanted to have channeled into my studies,” she said. “My senior year I took AP Environmental Studies because while I had been interested for so long I knew there was a lot I hadn’t explored or even thought of regarding the subject. Mr. Rhymer, my advisor and teacher at the Academy, has definitely influenced me into that direction more then I think I would have been without him.”

Sasha cannot officially declare what engineering field she is entering as a freshman so her first year will be all general classes.

“Certainly nothing concerning the environment yet I don’t think, just your basic math, science, and English courses,” she said. “After college, hopefully I’ll be able to get a field job as opposed to one where I sit in an office. That really depends on what I focus on and get my degree in. As an engineer I’m interested in problem solving. With so many environmental concerns, I don’t want to just learn what they are but learn how to fix them as well.”

Sasha and a generation of determined students like her bode well for the future of our natural world.

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