Francine St. Laurent
Major - Environmental Studies, Urban Planning
Hometown - North Pole, AL
“I was drawn to Western's picturesque campus and renowned journalism program. When I began my studies, I found within myself a love and urgent calling to safeguard the natural world. Western provided me the chance to explore and take action.”
I have always pushed myself: to be a better writer, to be involved in my community, to be active and healthy. I wanted to serve my country. I joined the Alaska Air National Guard, started running, lost 15 pounds and headed off to boot camp. I want to be an environmental journalist or transportation planner. I reach out to local experts and asked for advice. I attend green building workshops for planners and engineers. I connect with my surroundings and take advantage of the wealth of knowledge people working in the field have collected. I put myself out there, make myself uncomfortable, talk to strangers, ask questions and challenge myself to be better. I seek opportunities to grow, as a writer, environmentalist and community member.
This scholarship allows me to continue my studies and extracurricular activities with the utmost attention and focus. It allows me to continue encouraging my peers and professors to be a part of discussion about earth and our local natural resources. It allows me to be a full-time student without a job, allowing me to be actively engaged in my out-of-classroom work. In that same sense, it allows me to pursue opportunities like the Green Building Conference I attended in Fairhaven with local engineers and planners last fall. It allows me to contribute to the campus environmental community that strikes a chord within me.
I garden, learn about herbs and natural medicine, ride my bike and read in cozy coffee shops. I laugh with friends over roaring bonfires and spend time on and in the water.
Joining the military hugely impacted my life and outlook. I had never before been so tired, marched, rolled my socks in a perfect egg shape or lived in one room with 49 other girls. I had never been awake at 4 a.m. to run three miles. I had never been yelled at. Basic Military Training (BMT) was no picnic. But it changed my perception of hardship and the ability to overcome. I know that because I achieved there more than I had ever imagined, I can achieve whatever I choose to. I have strength, mentally and physically. And I understand what it means to struggle. That experience forced me to reevaluate what I once complained about. It helped me empathize and understand what people who actually struggle, to pay the bills or find food, might go through. It was incredibly humbling.