Whereas most children’s bedtime stories involve fairy tales and make-believe, Kevin McCarty grew up listening to stories about the water. His mother’s real-life tales of her visits to the Great Lakes instilled a passion in McCarty for the water and the life beneath it. Even from a young age, he hoped that he would one day work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States federal agency that oversees scientific and environmental matters originating from space all the way to the ocean floor.
Today, as a rising junior at Barry University, McCarty, a marine biology major, is finally getting the chance to live that dream. In April, McCarty was notified that he was selected as a 2013 recipient of a two-year undergraduate scholarship from the NOAA’s Educational Partnership Program (EPP) – a scholarship that not only provides financial assistance for undergraduate studies but also offers hands-on research experience at NOAA sites.
“When I found out that I received the scholarship I was awestruck,” McCarty said. “I didn't believe it, but that quickly turned into excitement. This is my dream job.”
The EPP Undergraduate Scholarship Program (USP), awarded by the NOAA’s Office of Education, provides financial assistance for two years of undergraduate study in a range of fields related to NOAA’s mission and objectives, including science, engineering, mathematics and technology; the scholarship also requires that two 10-week summer internships be completed as part of the program and that recipients maintain a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 in their respective majors.
The program, which aims to increase the number of students who graduate with degrees in academic fields integral to NOAA’s mission, also strives to recruit students from Minority Serving Institutions (MSI), such as Barry, throughout the United States.
McCarty and other 2013 EPP Undergraduate Scholarship Program recipients will gather at the NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., in May for the first of two summer internships. Following an orientation and training, recipients will be assigned an internship at a specific NOAA office to gain hands-on research in operations or research. In July, recipients will return to NOAA headquarters to present their respective summer projects during a week of final presentations.
“To now have this great opportunity to prove my self worth, it's what I've always wanted,” McCarty said. “It feels good. Hard work breeds success.”
Even as a busy college student, McCarty’s passion for the water remains strong.
“The water is my place of solace,” McCarty said. “No matter how stressed or upset I am, when I'm around water, any water, I instantly feel better.”
For more information about the NOAA’s EPP Undergraduate Scholarship Program, visit http://www.epp.noaa.gov/ssp_undergrad_page.html