Scholarships change lives at the College of Charleston. Every year, annual donors provide more than 240 students with scholarship support through the College of Charleston Fund. Meet Jenny Brennan ’15, a College of Charleston Fund and Parents’ Fund scholarship recipient from Moncks Corner, S.C. A geology major with an environmental geology concentration and a communication minor, Brennan is graduating this weekend.
Q: What does scholarship support mean to you?
A: Applying to the College in 2010 during the heart of the recession, I knew I would have to take out multiple student loans to pay for college. The same day I received my acceptance letter, I received the scholarship letter from the CofC Fund due to my academic merits. Between my state LIFE Scholarship and my CofC Fund scholarship, I was able to attend the College.
Q: What surprised you about the College?
A: The College has offered me one of the most interactive learning experiences I could have hoped for. This is best seen through my geology courses. Many of my classes have included field elements around Charleston. I’ve tested the water quality in Colonial Lake, studied freshwater/saltwater interactions at Dixie Plantation, waded the headwaters of a Cooper River tributary, just to name a few of the experiences. It’s one thing to learn about wetland hydrology in the classroom, but when you’re immersed in that system and can see the processes, it leads to a whole new level of understanding. I think that undergraduate involvement in learning is one of the many ways that the College of Charleston stands out.
I was also amazed by the close relationships I formed with many of the geology professors. The independent research project I worked on for more than two years with Dr. Vijay Vulava, entitled “Sorption and Transport of Triclosan in Natural Soils,” was presented last year at the Southeastern conference for the Geological Society of America. The project is researching how an organic pollutant in the environment travels through soil, water and environments in general. The organic pollutant, which is used in many antibacterial related products, is actually aquatically toxic.
Q: What experiences have you had outside the classroom?
A: Since 2013, I’ve been a full-time intern in the summer and a part-time intern during the school year in the environmental department at Nucor Steel Berkley in Mount Pleasant. I deal with waste management and different environmental compliance inspections as well as various industrial safety audits and environmental audits. I also work with CofC’s Office of Sustainability, where I serve as the executive chair of the ECOllective Student Project Committee. The committee is a group of students who deal with student grant funding for sustainability projects on campus.
In my free time, I work with kids in grade school and help educate them on environmental science. I was also a judge for the Kids Who Care competition in February, where kids at schools in Berkeley County work on a project related to environmental science and present it.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I will be attending Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment for their Master of Environmental Management program – just to note, my interactive learning experiences here at CofC were essential in my acceptance to the program. This program will allow me to build upon my scientific background and also be introduced to policy and engineering in water resources management.
If I hadn’t been able to come to CofC, I probably wouldn’t be entering the field I truly love and want to work in for the rest of my life. I see sustainability as a way to ensure the future of humanity as well as the environment, and I hope to help save the world however I can.