New grad makes bold statement, turns down scholarship

Hannah Rousey

Hannah Rousey

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

CENTER LOVELL — Like many recent high school graduates, Hannah Rousey is excited about her future, yet also worried about what it will cost her to pursue a college degree.

Hannah plans to attend Sterling College in Crafsbury Common, Vt., to pursue a degree in sustainable agriculture and environmental protection law and policy.

She was one of five students to receive a $1,000 Poland Spring Good Science scholarship at Fryeburg Academy’s graduation ceremony.

Hannah, however, turned it down.

“I am grateful for the scholarship I have been awarded, but I cannot in good faith accept money from a company that does not exhibit sustainable and ethical practices,” she wrote to Poland Springs Bottling Company on June 2. “For me to accept your scholarship would be hypocritical. I am in hopes that more people of my generation will become aware of the dire need to protect our water and the earth’s other precious resources.”

At this time, Hannah has yet to receive a reply from Poland Spring.

FA teachers and board members at Fryeburg Academy award students a select number of scholarships.

“We didn’t have to answer essay questions or fill out an application because the teachers chose scholarships that they thought fit certain members of the graduating class,” Hannah said.

Founded in 1958, Sterling College is the “first institution to focus exclusively on sustainability” according to the school’s website. The four-year private college costs $46,152 for the 2016-17 academic year.

Facing a steep educational price tag, Hannah says the decision to turn down the scholarship was the right thing to do — for her.

“I am in need of a lot of financial support to attend school in the fall. I am so appreciative of the scholarship money that I have received,” she said. “Standing up for one’s beliefs and convictions isn’t something that is done only when convenient. It’s important to lead by action, when push comes to shove doing what is right isn’t always what is easy. Accepting money from Poland Springs would go against everything I am going to school for, therefore, I politely declined their offer.”

Hannah says she has always been aware of the impact her actions can have on the planet.

“From a young age, I was taught to carry a water bottle with me so I did not need to buy water at a store. As I got older, I was able to learn more about the fight for our water rights here in Fryeburg. Just last month, I was asked to speak at the Lovell Library showing of the documentary called ‘Bottled Life,’ sponsored by our local store, Spice and Grain. This, among others, is a very important documentary that I recommend everyone should watch,” she said. “Being an educated and aware consumer is key to being able to enact change. The almighty dollar speaks volumes. It is paramount that we support the people and companies that are operating using sustainable practices.”

Along with being active in her community this summer, Hannah will be an intern at the Greater Lovell Land Trust.

“I’m looking forward to working with this organization and learning as much as I can about the application of environmental protection,” she said.

What lead her to an interest in environmental issues?

“I’ve grown up in a family where environmental stewardship is ingrained in our everyday life, to respect the planet and the rights of every living thing on it,” Hannah said. “During my junior year at Fryeburg Academy, I was able to take a farming class for May term with Gregory S. Huang-Dale and Maria Manning. FA has a farm located right behind the Head of School’s house. During that month, I realized that I love dirt! I knew that I had a strong passion for protecting the Earth, but it wasn’t until I took the class inch-by-inch and Gregory’s and Maria’s guidance that I discovered this was my calling in life.”

A recent addition to the Fryeburg Academy curriculum is the Outdoor Research Learning Center (ORLC), which is an experiential learning environment. It applies what students learn in the classroom to real life situations.

“I had an amazing opportunity to be a teacher’s aid for Joy Norkin and Joel Rhymer with their freshman Science and English classes. These two teachers inspired and supported me in my years at Fryeburg Academy. Working with them was amazing. During this time, I was able to help kids with their projects and field studies and accompany them on overnight hut hikes up and around the White Mountains. This kind of learning is critical in making connections between us and our environment,” Hannah said. “An Experiential Learning Curriculum should be taught from kindergarten and beyond. We need to know and understand from a very early age how to live on this beautiful planet with respect, love and care. It’s the only one we have and it would be suicide to live any other way.”

She selected to attend Sterling College because it is “a special place…it’s a working college.”

“Their motto is ‘working hands, working minds.’ They embody the principle that actions speak louder than words. It is a close-knit community of people who are dedicated to ‘plain hard work to build responsible problem solvers who become stewards of the environment as they pursue productive lives’ (part of the mission statement),” she said. “The experiential learning paired with rigorous academic studies is going to be a perfect combination for me. I envision my college experience to be one of action not just rhetoric. At Sterling, that is exactly what I’ll get.”

As to her choice of majoring in sustainable agriculture and environmental protection law and policy, Hannah said, “My immediate future goal is to put all that I have into my studies at Sterling. As I learn, I am in hopes of finding a clear path forward. There are so many opportunities ahead for me. As I go through my four years at Sterling, I will gain the knowledge needed to successfully work in my desired fields of study and make a positive difference in the world.”

How does Hannah plan to make a difference and create more awareness in regards to protecting the environment?

“I feel like I make a difference every day. I want to help bring awareness to the important issues facing our society. That is partly why I sent my letter to the newspaper. More people my age need to recognize the power we hold. If more people realized that they, as individuals, can make a difference through their actions, a lot would change very quickly,” she added. “We, as consumers, need to know exactly what our money is supporting. Poland Springs stays in business because we continue to buy their product. As a people, we need to be aware of the connection between our precious finite resources and our responsibility to protect the planet from corporate greed. I will continue to live in a manner that supports sustainability and brings awareness to others through action, education and community service.”

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