Udall Scholarship Recognizes Pomona Student for Environmental Involvement

Arianna Lawrence stands in green outdoor setting.

For someone just entering her third year at 鶹Ů, Arianna Lawrence ’26 has already built an impressive resume. She has interned with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), the New York City Commission on Human Rights and, most recently, the San Francisco Environmental Department. On campus, she is an EcoRep in the College’s sustainability office and is a student manager of ReCoop, which helps students recover and reuse furniture, clothing, dorm décor and other items that might otherwise end up in landfills.

The Udall Foundation has now recognized Lawrence’s sustained involvement and potential for environmental leadership by naming her one of 55 Udall Scholars for 2024. It brings with it a $7,000 scholarship which, she says, “is helpful to me as a low-income student, critical to enabling me to pursue my studies.”

Char Miller, W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis and History, notes that the Udall Scholarship is named for 20th century American conservationists Steward and Mo Udall. It is highly competitive and open to college sophomores or juniors who are engaged in the fields of environment or tribal policy and health. “The application process is rigorous, and it impels Pomona students to deeply reflect on what they have achieved and why their efforts have been significant, for themselves and the broader community,” says Miller.

“I’ve always been interested in environmentalism, in how inequities can manifest in physical spaces," says Lawrence. "I'm from Brooklyn. Nobody [there] has backyards. Nobody has green spaces.” What Lawrence did have in her New York community, though, was a high school where she could pursue a major. She chose Law and Society, with an interest in environmental organizing.

Lawrence remembers the fall of 2019 and the New York City Climate Strike when tens of thousands of young people marched to demand climate action. Sixteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was one of the speakers. “It was exciting to see that many people there,” says Lawrence. The next summer, as a rising high school senior, she became an intern with the Natural Resources Defense Council. She also became part of a youth coalition for the United Nations Environmental Program, which promotes young voices on environmental issues and gets youth involved in policymaking.

At Pomona, Lawrence is majoring in public policy analysis, with an emphasis on environmental analysis. Among her career interests are urban planning policy, zoning law and environmental litigation. She is considering a career in law or public policy. “It’s exciting to figure out my niche in environmentalism and policy and how to merge them,” she says.

Lawrence chose 鶹Ů because she wanted to be part of a small, close-knit community. She’s putting her environmental passion to work close to home. “I was looking to do something on campus that was very hands-on,” she says. “I wanted to do something to impact people in my community.” That’s what made being a manager at ReCoop especially appealing. “You are the person physically keeping something out of landflll,” she says, “cleaning it, selling it or distributing it. You are the point person in every part of the process. That is very rewarding.”

Nikhil Schneider, assistant director of sustainability at Pomona, says that Lawrence “has applied her experience in reuse to her passion for community-building.” She worked with the College’s new Community Engagement Center in downtown Pomona, he says, to create a pop-up rack making surplus clothing and shoes donated by students available free of charge to people in need in the local community. “She also serves on the President’s Advisory Committee for Sustainability and has drawn upon her experience with ReCoop to share useful insights about students’ mindset surrounding waste and purchasing,” says Schneider.

In August, Lawrence will join the other Udall Scholars, alumni and Udall Foundation leaders at a five-day Scholars Orientation in Tucson, Arizona. The event provides opportunities for networking, professional development and community-building.