Meet the Winners of Our Third Climate Change Scholarship

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By Christy Jacks
Last updated on August 11, 2023

Each year the submissions increase as well as the level of competition! Will we see you next year? Learn how you can get involved and win a scholarship during your first year in the US.

Wind turbines in a row line up before a mountain range and blue sky with white clouds

The third annual Climate Change Scholarship Competition, sponsored by U.S. News Global Education in collaboration with Shorelight, had 30 participating international students representing nine countries: China, Egypt, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Taiwan, Ukraine, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

How the Climate Change Scholarship Began

The 2022 Climate Change Scholarship Competition, founded by Carmen Atkinson, Shorelight’s senior director of direct sales and partnership development, saw a 65% increase in participation compared to 2021.

Out of all the applications received, 30 students were accepted and moved on to the competition. Twelve students completed educational videos about local, regional, or global aspects of climate change. Participants hailed from six different universities:

  1. Auburn University

  2. Florida International University

  3. Gonzaga University

  4. University of Illinois Chicago

  5. University of the Pacific

  6. University of Utah

How the Climate Change Scholarship Competition Works

Selected first-year students attend a three-session environmental program, where they choose and research a climate change issue, develop an outline for their presentation, identify a solution, and present their findings to their peers and judges. 

Rachel Yee Quill, Shorelight’s director of teaching & learning, Academic Affairs, led this program again this year; Atkinson and Sarah McKenzie, senior manager, Academic Affairs, served as judges. 

“I was very impressed with the students’ passion about the issues,” said Quill, “as well as their willingness to expand their own knowledge and contribute to raising others’ awareness.” 

2022 Climate Change Scholarship Winners

This year, we awarded three first prize winners $2,000 in tuition reduction for their spring semester, and two second prize winners $1,000 in tuition reduction. The winning videos covered a wide range of topics, including the impact of fast food on climate change, the effects of gold mining on the environment, and drought in California, among other key issues. 

McKenzie said, “I was so impressed with the quality and thoughtfulness of this year’s presentations! The projects were inspiring and demonstrated innovation and well-thought-out research.” 

Check out our winners for 2022!

The Drought in California

Alice | University of the Pacific

Alice starts the presentation by defining what drought is, its causes, and how it affects the population. 

“Drought has impacted more people over the past 40 years than any other natural disaster,” she says. Next, she identifies the three factors that cause drought: climate change, deforestation, and high water demand. 

The Solution: Alice created an app for children ages 4–10 that suggests fun daily activities that conserve water. The app times these activities, alerts the child to “turn off the water”, then rewards them in their profile.

Fast Foods’ Influence on Climate Change

Duong | University of Illinois Chicago

One of the biggest contributors to climate change from the fast food industry is waste from leftover food. Duong surveyed a group of individuals on their habits regarding leftovers and most said that they eventually get thrown away. He also quoted the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab statistic that, on average, restaurant patrons leave 17% of their meal uneaten and 55% of edible leftovers are left at the restaurant — all of which get thrown into the trash. When food ends up in landfills, it generates methane, an even more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2.

The Solution: 

  1. Prepare and eat a healthier diet — this could reduce energy consumption by 50%.

  2. Learn how to grill correctly — pre-cooking burgers could help reduce drippings and toxic grill smoke.

  3. Utilize recyclable packaging — consumers can choose more environmentally friendly food products that take up less space and break down faster in landfills.

Effects of Gold Mining on the Environment in Zimbabwe

Michelle | Florida International University

We learn early on in Michelle’s video that gold mining is the gateway to a better life in Zimbabwe. Gold mining can be detrimental to the environment because of the gases that are released when explosives or machinery are used to dig up the dirt. Additionally, 30% (or 900,000) people mining are doing so illegally and do not know how to rehabilitate the ground they have mined. There is no one to enforce environmental laws, so the vicious cycle continues.


  1. Lower impact mining — reduces soil erosion.

  2. Reuse mine waste — water, rocks, and tailings can all be reused.

  3. Shut down illegal mining and work with environmental groups to rehabilitate the mines.

Check out the other participants’ videos:

Second Place Entries

Honorable Mentions

Get Involved in 2023

The Climate Change Scholarship Competition is not only a great way for first-year international students to earn a reduction in their tuition, but also enables them to gain valuable experience practicing their research, presentation, and communication skills. Furthermore, it serves a valuable purpose, inspiring students, judges, and viewers on ways we can positively affect change in our environment by working together! 

If you want to be a part of the climate change conversation, be sure to submit to the competition this upcoming fall semester. Reach out to an advisor and be among the first to receive communications about the 2023 Climate Change Scholarship Competition.

Shorelight can help you transition to life as an international student in the US