Environmental Passion

USF student Shaza Hussein wins coveted Udall Scholarship award, the first ever for the university.

Photo by Katy Hennig | USF News


By Katy Hennig

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (April 6, 2012) - Shaza Hussein is making strides in environmental change one scholarship at a time.


The University of South Florida Honors College junior is one of 80 students nationwide to receive a $5,000 Udall Scholarship to support her research related to the environment.  


When USF provost Ralph Wilcox shared the news, she was shocked. “I literally asked him, are you for real?”


Not only is Hussein the first USF student to win the scholarship, she is the only student in the state of Florida this year to receive the prestigious award.


Salt marshes at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve. Photo by Shaza Hussein.

 The application process included, “lots of essays and lots of self-searching; thinking about in detail what you want your career to be, what you want your life to be, what your goals are, and what you’re really passionate about.”


Hussein is really passionate about nature and teaching others on a daily basis to “look around and enjoy paradise.”


Her love for nurturing nature may have begun with sunsets. “I think it starts with my Dad,” she said.


Both of Hussein’s parents grew up in a rural village in Sudan before moving to Ohio, where Hussein was born.  “He was just always aware about the earth and he was green before green was cool.”


In addition to Hussein’s majors, environmental science and policy and chemistry, she is on the Dean’s List, a member of the College of Arts and Sciences Honor Society, and is a student assistant in the Provost’s Office.


The Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation is dedicated to educating a new generation of Americans to preserve and protect their national heritage. The Udall Foundation is one of five federal foundations established nationwide in an effort to increase awareness of the nation’s natural resources and promote the principles and practices of environmental conflict resolution.


Hussein will spend this summer in Maine as an intern at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve. The internship is for another scholarship that she was awarded last summer, the Hollings Scholarship for Atmospheric sciences sponsored by NOAA.  She will help to create and enhance programs for weeklong camps for kids at the Wells Reserve.


Hussein has already interned at the National Weather Service in Tampa, applying some of her science background, and is excited to “utilize this opportunity to be outdoors in Maine with kids developing educational programs.”


Photo by USF student Will Wysong.

“The best way to bring about change is through younger generations, because it’s really them that end up convincing the older generations,” she said.


 The programs will be both fun and inspire preservation and sustainability efforts, she said.


In addition to her involvement initiating projects to promote environmental awareness on the USF campus, she is the president of Keep Our School Beautiful, an extension of Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, and the director of networking for the USF Student Environmental Association.


“I plan to be an advocate, activist and researcher all at the same time. I think that is a part of who you are when you’re an environmentalist, you just can’t help but be active out there,” she said.


Katy Hennig can be reached at 813-974-9663.