Recent college freshman, Beatrice Ongawan, was awarded a $5,500 undergraduate scholarship from the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) Orange County chapter at a virtual ceremony on Thursday night. The WTS Foundation provides scholarships to women who demonstrate leadership and interest in the transportation and sustainability industries, ensuring that essential skills and perspectives of women are included in planning the transportation systems of the future.
While attending Whitney High School, in Cerritos, CA, Beatrice demonstrated initiative and leadership after enrolling her school’s Eco-Club in Grades of Green’s 2019 Water Campaign program. Grades of Green is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that develops the next generation of environmental leaders by empowering students to complete transformative environmental projects in their communities. Every year, the campaign program is open to any grade-school student, includes personalized mentorship and coaching, and is provided free of charge to students and schools.
The Whitney Eco-Club team was inspired to take on the mounting crisis of plastic pollution in their local waterways for their 2019 Campaign project. Under Beatrice’s leadership, the Eco-Club developed a highly innovative campaign that constructed a massive 8-foot tall wave sculpture built from plastic bottles they collected from their high school and community. “We wanted people to be aware of what the plastic pollution problem is in our oceans and what they can do to help,” said Beatrice.
The sculpture titled “There is No Sea in Disposable” was displayed at the Subaru Pacific Dealership in Hawthorne, CA, and drew attention to the issue of marine plastic pollution. Subaru Pacific and the LAcarGUY dealership family are long-time partners to Grades of Green and are unique in their unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship. LAcarGUY was the first automotive dealer in the country to offer public electric charging stations at its facilities and cares about reducing the company’s carbon footprint through employee education and infrastructure changes.
Grades of Green was proud to recommend Beatrice for the scholarship due to her outstanding project management skills and talent for marshaling and engaging a large team of peers. Beatrice felt that her years of involvement in Grades of Green’s programs helped shape her personal and professional goals that she now brings with her to her next chapter at the University of California, Berkeley.
“Grades of Green showed me the kind of positive impact I can have to make a real difference,” she said. “Even though it was small, that’s something I brought to college. I really want to do something that can help the community.”
Beatrice was honored for her scholarship alongside other high school, undergraduate and graduate awardees.