W&L’s Jules Seay ’24 Awarded Two Prestigious Scholarships to Support Her Undergraduate Studies Seay has been selected for the Goldwater Scholarship to support a research career in science, mathematics and engineering, and also earned the Udall Scholarship in the environmental category.
Washington and Lee University junior Jules Seay ’24 has been awarded a highly competitive Goldwater Scholarship to support a research career in science, mathematics and engineering and a Udall Scholarship in the environmental category. At W&L, Seay is double majoring in biology and earth and environmental geoscience. Seay is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated from Westlake High School.
The Goldwater Scholarship is one of the oldest and most prestigious science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) scholarships in the country and aims to support undergraduate sophomores and juniors who show promise of becoming research leaders in their respective fields and intend to pursue a doctorate degree. Universities can only submit four nominees’ applications, and each selected scholar is awarded $7,500 to support undergraduate research in their junior or senior year.
Seay learned the news about the Goldwater Scholarship in a unique twist. Seay was presenting on the university’s fellowship opportunities at a W&L admitted students’ day program when Matthew Loar, director of fellowships, informed her she had received the Goldwater Scholarship. Seay’s Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters, who had been alerted to her scholarship selection, surprised her on stage to help celebrate the occasion.
“It feels amazing to be recognized for the work I am passionate about,” Seay said. “I am honored that the work I want to pursue was validated by professionals in the STEM field. It gives me so much reassurance that I belong in science and can make so much change with the research I want to do. It is still surreal to think that I’m a Goldwater Scholar!”
While surreal for Seay, her faculty mentors at W&L are not surprised she is being so abundantly awarded for her academic accomplishments and ambitions. David Harbor, professor of earth and environmental geoscience and Seay’s academic adviser, particularly commends her passion and the way she maintains a positive attitude about everything she does.
“Jules is a talented and engaged student and entrepreneur, one who I was grateful to have in one of my classes as a first-year student,” Harbor said. “But honestly, I most look forward to my time visiting with her in my office or running into her by chance at other places around campus, when I can simply appreciate her energy and optimism for the future.”
The Udall Scholarship honors the legacies of Morris and Stewart Udall, whose careers significantly impacted Native American self-governance, health care, and the stewardship of public lands and natural resources. Seay is the university’s fourth Udall Scholar, and the first W&L student to ever receive both the Goldwater and Udall scholarships.
“Being awarded the Udall Scholarship means the world to me because I’m being recognized for my work with the environment in a communal sense,” Seay said. “I do a lot of environmental research in STEM, but I also do environmental work with policy, business, my sorority and entrepreneurship.”
“Jules is an exceptional and motivated scholar with a promising career ahead of her working on positive solutions to environmental challenges,” said Chelsea Fisher, assistant professor of environmental studies. “She is capable of integrating several kinds of approaches to resolving complex environmental problems, and I’m so happy that her vast potential is being recognized with this scholarship.”
The Udall Scholarship, which grants $7,000 for academic study, will support Seay’s undergraduate studies and introduce her to a large alumni network of people who share her passion for the environment and are a valuable resource for sharing innovative ideas, professional advice and career opportunities. Seay will travel to Tucson, Arizona over the summer for a scholar orientation. There, she will connect with other scholars and learn more about environmental policy, graduate programs and other opportunities made available through the Udall Foundation.
“Working with Jules on the University Sustainability Committee and on campus sustainability initiatives she has directed through Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and the Connolly Entrepreneurship Society, I have been continually impressed with her ability to marry broad vision and meaningful action,” said Jane Stewart, director of sustainability at W&L. “Thinking big is a talent, effectively implementing ideas is a skill. Doing both equally well is a real gift — and Jules is gifted! I am thrilled that her talent and hard work have been recognized with this honor and know she will do great things with the opportunity.”
After W&L, Seay plans to pursue a doctorate in biogeochemistry with a focus on utilizing plants as a form of sequestration, a path that will allow her to combine both of her current majors. This dedication to interdisciplinary research has shaped her academic experience, as demonstrated through her simultaneous earning of the Goldwater and Udall scholarships.
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