UVM student Sophia Hoffacker ’17 has been awarded the Udall Scholarship, a prestigious, nationally competitive award for sophomores and juniors who are committed to careers related to environmental or Native American issues. Udall Scholars have demonstrated strong leadership and excellence in the classroom.
Hoffacker is the picture of an environmental activist. She is a College of Arts and Sciences student pursuing a double major in environmental studies and political science. Through her internship in UVM’s Office of Sustainability, Hoffacker recently organized the first annual Student Advocacy and Leadership Summit, a forum for campus leaders from environmental, social justice, professional development, and residential learning groups to come together for a full day of networking, collaboration and growth.
Hoffacker is a member of the steering committee of Student Climate Culture, a group working towards fossil fuel divestment on UVM’s campus. She is quite fervent when discussing what UVM is doing right — and what it could improve upon with regard to responsible energy consumption and socially responsible investments.
Since 2011, Hoffacker has been active in the Sierra Student Coalition, a national network of high school and college students working to protect the environment. She has been a participant in the organization's Summer Grassroots Training program, a trainer, a training director, and now a consultant to the training program directors. The program provides aspiring activists with the tools they need to work toward environmental and social justice.
Hoffacker, who is from the D.C. area, would like to commit her career and future to educating others about the threat of climate change.
Two juniors in Rubenstein, Jacqueline Cardoza ’16 and Katelyn Stoner ’16, were named as Honorable Mentions in the Udall Scholarship competition.
"UVM nominated three exceptional students, and we are delighted that Sophia, Jacqui, and Katie were all recognized for their excellence by the Udall Foundation," said Alec Ewald, interim associate dean of the Honors College, who heads the fellowships review committees. "Although we know how good UVM's environmental programs are, it is always nice to have that strength confirmed in a prestigious national competition."
Jacqueline Cardoza is an environmental studies major and has been heavily involved in extracurricular activities while at UVM. In addition to playing violin in the UVM Symphony Orchestra and forward for a women’s club soccer team, Cardoza is a Rubenstein Steward, a Lola Aiken Scholar and a member of Rubenstein’s Diversity Task Force. Cardoza is a research assistant in the UVM Park Studies Lab where she has studied why minorities are less likely to frequent national parks. She spent last summer in Kenya examining water contamination and, while there, discovered her passion lies in environmental epidemiology.
Jumping into a new field is something this Lisbon, Conn. native does wholeheartedly. Cardoza brought a chapter of the international organization, Partners in Health, to UVM’s campus in the fall of 2014. As the founder and co-president, Cardoza has encouraged many UVM students to think about global health issues, including those that result from environmental hazards. She plans to continue study into this field by attending a graduate program in environmental epidemiology.
Katelyn Stoner is a wildlife biology and natural resource ecology double major who has done extensive research as a UVM student. This past fall, Stoner spent the semester in Montana studying sustainable agriculture, forest management and biogeography in the Swan Valley area. She spent the summer of 2014, working for the USDA Forest Service in California, studying bird populations and migration. Stoner is a Rubenstein Steward and, as such, encourages students to become involved in environmental public service opportunities. Whether as a leader for UVM’s Outing Club, working for the Audubon Society, or tutoring various subjects on campus, Stoner is highly involved in extracurricular activities.
Originally from Lake Oswego, Ore., Stoner hopes to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. After graduation, she aspires to pursue a doctorate in wildlife biology and eventually work in wildlife management and policy where she can focus on the impacts of urbanization on bird populations.
Hoffacker is the fifth UVM student to be named a Udall Scholar (Tad Cooke ’14 received the award in 2012, Tyler Wilkinson-Ray ’12 in 2011, and Zachary Ewell ’08 and Kesha Ram ’08 received the award in 2006). Out of the 464 students nominated by universities to participate in the 2015 competition, 50 students were named scholars and 50 students were given honorable mentions. Each scholar receives a $5,000 scholarship, an expenses-paid trip to Tuscon, Ariz. for the Udall Scholar orientation and access to one of the largest networks of environmental leaders in the country.