Alumni in ENVS, Student Research

André Delva (C’13) Awarded Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship

Growing up in Tampa, FL, André Delva (C’13) was looking for a chance to spread his wings when he applied to colleges and universities as a high school student. Applying to schools up and down the east coast, Emory University was a school to which he applied on a whim and lucky for Emory, it was the school where he decided to matriculate. According to André, “After taking a tour around the campus, both my mom and I were sold. It was such a beautiful campus and our tour guide was able to depict the campus so well that I didn’t have a need to visit any other schools. At that point I knew that Emory was the school for me.”

We caught up with André recently after learning that he had been awarded the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship. These awards are designed to prepare recipients for a career teaching in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields in under-served areas. Over the next year, André will be pursuing a master’s degree and teaching certification, along with working in a high-need urban high school in New Jersey.

This past year following graduation has been full of opportunities and change for André. Along with the demands of working in a Connecticut charter school and the intense preparation of applying for and being awarded the Fellowship, André has also been working with Professor Berry Brosi as a co-author on a publication recently submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. Having worked in Professor Brosi’s lab as an undergraduate, André has been able to maintain his involvement in research beyond his Emory undergraduate experience.

We were thrilled to be able to catch up with André and wish him the very best as he embarks on his newest adventure. Read on to learn more about André’s experience in the Department of Environmental Sciences and beyond in his own words:

1. How did you get your start in the Department of Environmental Sciences (ENVS)?
It all started during my sophomore year when I began to think that I wouldn’t end up going the pre-med route, so I began to venture out a little more with the classes that I took. Having taken AP Environmental Science in high school, I began taking ENVS courses in the spring of my sophomore year. That spring, I ended up taking two classes in the ENVS department, ENVS 230 (Fundamentals of Geology w/lab) and ENVS 260 (Quantitative Methods in ENVS). Through these classes and my daily interactions with the students and faculty in the department, I began to see the how close knit everyone was and I thoroughly enjoyed the courses. At the end of the semester, I communicated how I felt to both my professors and they urged me to join the department.

I originally hoped to be Biology/Environmental Sciences double major, but since I really didn’t get started on my ENVS major until my junior year I had to “bump it down” to getting a BS in Biology and a minor in Environmental Sciences.

2. Can you describe some of the work you did with Professor Brosi and your research experiences here in ENVS?
After taking Professor Brosi’s ENVS 260 class and becoming his advisee, I started to help out in his lab in September of my junior year. I was a versatile helper in the lab, doing various tasks, such as counting pollen grains, assisting with the construction and operation of our flight chamber, attending to the livelihood of the bees, organization & upkeep of the lab, and various other tasks.

Additionally, during the summer between my junior and senior years, I had the chance to go to RMBL (Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory) in Crested Butte, CO, and conduct my own research project under the guidance of Dr. Brosi. It was research involving hand pollination, observing how pollen quantity and composition affected the resulting seed output of a local wildflower. It was a challenging and exciting summer as I had never been in complete control of such a project before. However, I had an overwhelming amount of support from the lab in Colorado, which led to the completion of a great experiment.

3. What have you been doing since your graduation from Emory College in May 2013?
After graduation, I decided to delay graduate school and started to look for a position or program to help me to save a bit of money for graduate school. At some point in my search for a gap year program, I came across Great Oaks Charter School and saw that they were hiring tutors for the upcoming school year. Knowing that I’ve always had a bit of a passion for educating and mentoring others, I applied and accepted the job when it was offered. So I went ahead and relocated to Bridgeport, CT and spent the school year tutoring 6th graders in mathematics.

Though I had worked for schools previously, this new position was a challenge that I had not faced before. In previous positions, I worked with completing homework and assisting the teacher in their classroom. As a tutor in this brand new charter school, I had my training wheels pulled out from underneath me as I was required to create and deliver personalized lessons plans to small groups of 6th grade boys and girls – students who didn’t always want to be there. The year was difficult, but not without its rewards. I met some amazing students and educators during my time there, learned more about teaching and the school system than I thought I would, and saw the potential for me to create change in the education system. After weeks of weighing my options, I decided apply for the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship (an option sent to me from Dr. Brosi). So during this summer and the upcoming school year, I’ll be working with the program to get both my master’s and teaching certification while working at a high-need urban or rural secondary school within the area.

4. What is your favorite Emory memory?
Without a doubt, my favorite Emory memory was the day I returned from winter break freshmen year. The trip from the airport to campus was uneventful, but just after I unpacked, I started to hear rumblings coming from the other students that had arrived earlier. At the same time, my roommate came busting through the door exclaiming that it had started to snow! Coming from Florida, I had only gotten to see snow a handful of times while traveling during the winter and I had never really gotten the chance to play in it. Needless to say, I grabbed all my winter gear and journeyed outside to enjoy the weather with my roommate and everyone else that was back on campus. Little did I know that this period would soon be called “snowpocalypse” as it later shut down both Emory Campuses and most of the city of Atlanta. Without classes, this period was a great opportunity for me to really hang out and get to know some of the people in my residence hall. Ultimately, what I really miss from Emory are the people. As most would likely say, moving away from a group of close friends is rough – the social environment at a college campus is really unique and hard to find elsewhere.