Her community-based projects, academic prowess and research earned Vanessa Alejandro, a geology major, a spot on Glamour magazine’s “Top 10 College Women of 2015.” She is the second University of Houston student to receive the honor.
The annual ranking recognizes the exceptional achievements and academic excellence of college juniors who are leaders on their campus and in the greater community. The program recognizes outstanding women in the U.S. and Canada.
Alejandro received a $3,000 scholarship, a trip to New York City for the awards ceremony at the Museum of Arts and Design, and recognition in Glamour.
“I felt so honored to be selected as one of these amazing women,” said Alejandro, who is also a member of UH’s Honors College.
In addition to being a top-performing geology student, Alejandro co-founded Warriors of the Wild, a non-profit that educates inner-city children in the Houston area about nature and the outdoors. Alejandro and 14 volunteers have reached more than 4,000 students in the Houston area through field trips and educational skits.
“Through Warriors of the Wild, we hope to inspire kids to pick up a book about space or bugs and to go outside and explore,” she said. “Science is largely based on discovery-type learning, and we want to ignite a spark for the sciences in schools.”
Alejandro feels these efforts will not only lead to future scientists, engineers and problems solvers, but also kids who are conscious of their ecological impact.
She is also working with a team of students from UH’s Honors College to develop a nature exploratorium playground that is like an outdoor learning laboratory.
Last year, she received the Udall Scholarship, a national scholarship given to students who are committed to careers related to the environment, tribal public policy or Native American health care.
Alejandro, who will be a senior in the fall, hopes to enter the Peace Corps or obtain a Fulbright Fellowship after graduation. “That exposure in the field will help me learn about sustainability on a global level,” she said. After that experience, she plans to enter a graduate program in geology.
For information on Top 10 College Women winners, visit www.glamour.com/inspired/glamour-top-10-college-women
Kathy Major, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics