Vanelli is first Salve Regina student to win NOAA’s Hollings Scholarship
Nikki Vanelli ’22, environmental studies major and biology minor from Quakertown, Pennsylvania, has been awarded a National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship, becoming the first Salve Regina student to receive the honor.
Vanelli, one of only 120 undergraduates nationwide selected for the award in 2020, will receive up to $9,500 per academic year and a full-time paid summer internship opportunity at one of NOAA’s research facilities across the United States. She will also have travel expenses covered to attend both the NOAA Scholarship Program orientation and the annual Science & Education Symposium, where students present their research.
“Given Nikki’s aptitude for environmental science, her academic achievement and her potential for career success in the environmental field, it comes as no surprise to me that NOAA would also recognize these attributes,” said Dr. Jameson Chace, professor of biology and chair of Salve’s department of cultural, environmental and global studies. “It is a national competition with thousands of applicants, so Nikki’s recognition by the Hollings Scholarship Committee is especially noteworthy. It speaks volumes about her accomplishments to date as much as it does about how professionals view her potential for success in the future.”
Vanelli, who is actively involved in the Hydroponics Club and plays third base/outfield on the softball team, credits Salve Regina’s environmental studies program with fueling her passion for science.
“The program does a great job of getting us outside and in the field, which is what I ultimately fell in love with,” she said. “I hope that my experience with NOAA leads me to more opportunities for career options in the field. It has been such an honor receiving this scholarship.”
Recruited in high school to play Division I softball, Vanelli said she decided to attend Salve Regina because she wanted her college experience to be more than just athletics. During a visit with softball head coach Jannelle Iaquinto, Vanelli said she fell head over heels for Newport and realized this was the place she could thrive both athletically and academically.
“I came in undecided, but I took the Humans and Their Environment lecture and lab during my first semester here, and I realized how passionate I am toward the environment,” she said. “From then on, I was fully invested in being an environmental major, which I love. The lab is truly amazing, and it’s a great way to be connected to nature and the community.”
Vanelli credits Dr. Chace, her advisor, with being instrumental in her academic success at Salve Regina. “His passion is infectious and he truly wants the best for his students,” she said. “I would have never been able to obtain this scholarship without his guidance. He encourages me to challenge myself and pursue all opportunities.”
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