scholarshipIncoming Sterling College student Hannah Rousey never expected to be a media sensation. “I wasn’t even sure my local newspaper would publish an article about [me],” she confessed recently in email.

But the local newspaper couldn’t resist a story about a student turning down a $1000 Good Science scholarship from Poland Springs for environmental reasons. And then the local TV news ran a piece about her stand as well. And then, the story was picked up by popular blogs TreeHugger and EcoWatch.

As she wrote to Poland Springs, “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. 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.”

Hannah talked more to Sterling College about her decision in an email interview. She will be entering in the Fall of 2016 and wants to pursue a degree in sustainable agriculture and environmental protection law and policy.

How did you hear about Sterling College?

Through a friend actually! She told me I had to look you guys up cause I would fall in love, and I did.

What made you decide to apply?

I knew I wanted a college experience that was more hands-on than just sitting in a room listening to lecture after lecture. The kind of educational program that is available at Sterling is amazing and definitely hands on! I also wanted a small community, where everyone knows each others’ names and the environment is lively. I really think Sterling is a place where people are given the tools and support to flourish.

scholarshipWhat does “environmental stewardship” mean to you?

It’s not something that you do when people are watching or when you’re told to. It’s something that should be incorporated in your everyday life. It’s truly been a lifestyle for me. That’s another reason why Sterling was so intriguing to me, because the whole community and institution is about environmental stewardship, not just a select number of classes.

Did you expect rejecting the $1000 scholarship would get this much attention?

Not at all! I wasn’t even sure my local newspaper would publish an article about it. I’ve been so overwhelmingly grateful for the outpouring of support from friends, family, and strangers.

What’s it been like being in Treehugger and EcoWatch?

I feel honored; the reason why I sent out the letter to the papers was in hopes of raising awareness and inspiring people. The fact that so many blogs, TV stations, and people have been buzzing about it is incredible.

What are you looking forward to when coming to campus?

I’m really excited to be surrounded by like minded people. One of the special things at Sterling I think are the connections made with both the planet and the people in your close knit community.


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