2016 Nominee - Erin Fedewa

Erin Fedewa - Class of 2008

January 04, 2016

Erin Fedewa, a 2008 graduate of St. Johns High School, is heading to Trinidad and Tobago in February as a Fulbright Scholar, doing research in marine sciences, specifically fisheries.

Fedewa says she discovered her passion for fisheries and marine biology during a summer internship at Shedd’s Aquarium in Chicago that she completed the summer before her senior year at SJHS. Following graduation she studied marine science at the University of South Carolina.  While at USC she was a four-year member of the cross country team, starting for three years, and was an active member of a marine science club where she did outreach programs at nearby schools.  In her “spare time” she did independent research in the lab during all four years, and founded a “Green Initiative Committee” that worked diligently to encourage others to recycle, focusing on sustainability projects.  Through her work in this area, Fedewa was awarded a $10,000 grant to create the university’s first “carbon neutral” basketball game.  She organized students to plant trees to offset the carbon emissions from one basketball game.  

During the summer before her senior year at USC, Fedewa worked under scholarship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and completed research on bluefin tunas.  She worked on identifying their age through their ear bones, called otoliths.  She explains how these ear bones are like rings on trees, allowing humans to determine their age and growth over time.  

Fedewa’s passion for marine science and sustainability were instrumental in her receiving a Udall national scholarship for $7,000 and NOAA’s Hollings Scholarship for $16,000.  

As she approached graduation from USC she began to look at master’s programs across the country.  Through her search efforts she discovered a professor at Oregon State University who was looking for a graduate assistant for a research project.  Having never been to Oregon, Fedewa reached out to the professor and within a week she was offered an opportunity to work with the professor, completing research while obtaining her master’s degree in May 2015, under scholarship.  

Prior to her graduation from OSU, Fedewa was encouraged, by her sister, Lauren, to apply to become a Fulbright Scholar.  After carefully researching the Fulbright program, Fedewa determined that her best chance of being accepted was to apply for a research program in Trinidad and Tobago, an island nation just north of Venezuela in South America.   

Following graduation from OSU, Fedewa took a temporary research job in Alabama with a team doing research in the Gulf of Mexico. During her work there, she received word that she had been accepted as a Fulbright Scholar. She plans to return to Oregon this month to complete work on a presentation for a conference in Alaska before beginning work in Trinidad and Tobago

Fedewa credits her educational experiences at St. Johns Public Schools for preparing her for these experiences and her future, stating that “always having something going on other than academics just teaches you how to manage stress so much better.”  While in high school Fedewa was involved in numerous extracurricular activities, and she credits all of her teachers for their support. “I think St. Johns has so many amazing teachers,” she says, “and I had so many great experiences with so many teachers.  They really encouraged us to pursue our passions and are really supportive.”  

When asked what advice she would give younger students she says to “experience and experiment...keep an open door to new opportunities and experiences.”  She says students should have “the ability to keep an open mind and try a lot of different things, take a lot of different classes, and get involved in a lot of different organizations, it really rounds you out as a person.”  She goes on to say, that it is important to “meet a lot of people rather than just staying with one group and just doing one thing.”  

St. Johns Public Schools is proud of our graduate and Fulbright Scholar, Erin Fedewa!   She is the daughter of Tom Fedewa and Kristine Ranger.  #SJRedwingPride