Shaping Her Future

Realizing a dream, thanks to scholarship efforts.

Cassidy Harding smiling

Realizing a dream, thanks to scholarship efforts.

Cassidy Harding ’19, ’21 (MSIS) knew she wanted to be an environmental scientist since taking an AP class in high school.

“I wanted to do something with my life that made a difference and tackled urgent issues,” she said.

During summer 2019, Harding was a resilient landscapes intern at the Environmental Defense Fund in Raleigh. In her role, she worked on an initiative that partnered with North Carolina farmers to reduce flood risks near wetlands.

The internship was funded by the UNC Institute for the Environment’s Pavel Molchanov Scholars program. In its inaugural year, the program matched undergraduate students with an environmental internship at partner organizations in North Carolina, South Carolina or Virginia, where students can supplement their academic work with experiential, professional training. Each Molchanov Scholar received a $5,000 stipend to support their summer experience.

“As a student, I wasn’t directly involved in environmental work, but I remember the importance of internships,” said Molchanov, an expert in energy sector analysis who donated $1 million to the University in January 2019 to launch the program.

Without the funding, Harding said she would have likely had to turn down the Environmental Defense Fund internship.

Harding has since gone on to get her Master of Information Science in Environmental Informatics at Carolina and currently works as a Sustainability Analyst at California Water Service.

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