Claremont, Calif. (April 3, 2013) — Pitzer College students Keiko Budech ’14 and Jess Grady-Benson ’14 have been named 2013 Udall Scholars by the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation. Budech and Grady-Benson were two of only 50 students to be selected as 2013 Udall Scholars. They will join this year’s recipients in Tucson, AZ this August 7-11 to receive their awards and meet environmental and Native American policymakers and community leaders.
An environmental analysis major, Budech has been involved in food justice issues since high school. She works with the Fallen Fruit From Rising Women project at Crossroads, Inc., an organization dedicated to providing housing, education and support to women who have been incarcerated. She is also a lead educator and garden assistant at the San Antonio High School Food Justice program and has been integral in the creation of a garden at the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center for day laborers. All three organizations are community partners of Pitzer’s Community Engagement Center. Following a semester spent on the Pitzer in Nepal study abroad program, Budech studied sustainable methods for food production in a rural village last summer. After graduation, Budech plans to earn a PhD in environmental policy and community organizing so she can help address environmental inequalities in the food system.
A violinist, songwriter and singer, Grady-Benson is a double major in environmental analysis and music. She is active in the Ecology Center and the 5C Sustainability Coalition, and is a lead organizer for the Claremont Colleges Divestment Campaign, which advocates divesting from the fossil fuel industry. Grady-Benson also plays with the popular student band, Sugar Pine. After receiving her degree from Pitzer, she plans to pursue a PhD in environmental policy and education while continuing to study American folk music and environmentally-based art. She hopes to create a grassroots organization focused on climate change activism through the arts.
Associate Professor of Environmental Science Kathleen Purvis-Roberts, who served as the faculty representative for the Udall Scholarship this year, said she was extremely proud of Budech and Grady-Benson.
“Right now we are confronting large-scale environmental issues, such as climate change, and it is critical to have emerging environmental leaders like Keiko and Jessica who are going to make a difference in this world,” Purvis-Roberts said. “Keiko has a strong passion for correcting inequalities in the food system and Jess plans to lead a grassroots organization combining her love of the arts with climate change activism.”
Udall Scholarships are awarded to college students who plan to pursue careers related to the environment and to Native American students who intend to specialize in tribal public policy or health care.
Fifty 2013 Udall Scholars were selected from 488 candidates who were nominated by 230 colleges and universities. The scholarships provide up to $5,000 to support students during their junior or senior year in college.