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Two UH Honors Students Receive Hollings Environmental Science Scholarships

By Mallory Chesser
April 25, 2018 

During his 36 years in office, Senator Ernest Hollings of South Carolina was an advocate for ocean policy and conservation. The Hollings Scholarship, instituted upon his retirement in 2005, pays tribute to his legacy by supporting undergraduate education in the environmental sciences through scholarships and internships with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In March 2018, for the first time, the University of Houston learned that not one, but two of its students have received a Hollings Scholarship, offering up to $9,500 in tuition for their junior and senior year as well as a 10-week, paid internship at a NOAA facility during the summer. 

True FurhhTrue Furrh is a sophomore Tier One Scholar and Honors College student pursuing degrees in environmental sciences and civil engineering. He is active in NSM Student Leadership, serves as an Advancement Ambassador, is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and spends weekends as a coordinator in UH CARES. Furrh participated in a UH study abroad to Iceland and completed a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) last summer, two experiences that heightened his interest in research into environmental issues. Through the NOAA Hollings Scholarship, Furrh hopes to study coastal resiliency and how environmental stewardship can mitigate the effects of disasters. 

Rachel RuffraRachel Sanchez-Ruffra is a second-year biology major in the Honors College. In the summer of 2017, she participated in GalapaGO, a month-long, research-based study abroad experience in the Galápagos Islands, where she developed experience and an appreciation for ecological field research. Sanchez-Ruffra hopes to pursue a graduate degree and a career conducting research in environmental protection and preservation. 

By offering hands-on experience in environmental science, research, technology, policy, education, and management, internships with the NOAA have a proven track record of launching successful careers in environmental science. NOAA reports that 75% of Hollings recipients go on to graduate school, and more than 7% have since received National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. 

Dr. Ben Rayder, Director of National Fellowships and Major Awards in the Office of Undergraduate Research, wants more students to be aware of this generous scholarship opportunity—especially those with majors in earth and atmospheric sciences or environmental engineering. 

“With a tuition stipend of $9,500 for two years and a paid summer internship at a NOAA facility, the Hollings Scholarship is a substantial award. And with an availability of 120 scholarships for roughly 500 candidates, the Hollings Scholarship offers a lot of opportunity to qualified candidates," he said.  

Applicants to the scholarship must be sophomores at the time of application and should have an interest in pursuing a career related to public service or oceanic and atmospheric research. The application for 2019 will be available in September. Contact Ben Rayder at for more information.