UW student from Lander receives Tomé full-ride scholarship

h/t UW - Inaugural recipients of the Tomé Scholars to Fellows Program scholarship at UW are, from left: Iris Kurz, Benjamin Piña, Addison Potts and Jennifer Bautz

(Lander, WY) – The University of Wyoming’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources has received a gift of $600,000 from the Tomé Foundation to create the Tomé Scholars to Fellows Program.

“Wyoming and the University of Wyoming are close and dear to us. The University of Wyoming is our alma mater, and Carol is a native Wyomingite,” Ramon Tomé says. “We are proud to provide an opportunity to continue the support of a diverse student body, one that is inclusive of all people, as the university has done in the past and continues to foster now.

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“We know that these scholars will make a difference in their field of study and that the university will empower them to do their best. Through our support and the university commitment, it is our intent to enable underrepresented students to achieve an education that will make a difference in the lives of others and their own.”

The Tomé Scholars to Fellows Program will be among UW’s premier scholarship opportunities — providing transformational experiences for future leaders in the environment and natural resources sector.

Tomé Scholars are women and/or minority students whose major area of educational focus is in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM), including medicine and nursing.

Tomé Scholars receive a full-ride scholarship and funding for one or more unique experiences such as international field courses and community service. Following graduation, these exceptional students become Tomé Fellows, a community of Tomé Scholars.

Recipients will be selected through the leadership of the Haub School dean, and the dean and faculty members will be actively engaged with the Tomé Scholars over their four years of education.

“The Haub School is so grateful to join in partnership with the Tomé Foundation to provide an experience that empowers these talented scholars to have impact on our wild and working lands,” says John Koprowski, dean of the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources. “We embolden our students through their experiences and broad training to take on the grand challenges in the environment that require passion and determination to bring people together to solve complex problems. Through this generous gift, our Tomé Scholars are on a path toward a lifetime of impact.”

Tomé Scholars will bring ambition, intelligence, drive and tenacity into a UW educational experience designed to elevate their career opportunities to impact the world through expertise and leadership, Koprowski says. They also will have access to a network of other Tomé Scholars across the country and build a relationship with Carol and Ramon Tomé themselves.

Carol and Ramon Tomé have given generously to UW since 1995. Their previous contributions include a $1 million gift for the Carol and Ramon Tomé Student Admissions Center, located within the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center. Additionally, they have contributed to the Mick and Susie McMurry High Altitude Performance Center and the UW Alumni Association. Carol retired as chief financial officer of Home Depot and then came out of retirement in 2020 to serve as the CEO of UPS during the global pandemic.

Four students have received the Tomé full-ride scholarship. They are Jennifer Bautz, Iris Kurz, Benjamin Piña and Addison Potts.

Bautz, from Lander, hopes to use her education to help ensure that future generations have opportunities to enjoy public lands. Bautz is pursuing her B.S. in environmental systems science with a concurrent major in environment and natural resources and the Honors College.

“I was originally planning to pay for college myself through savings, scholarships and part-time jobs,” Bautz says. “Piecing together funding for college has been a great challenge, and I welcome the opportunity presented by this scholarship. Being a Tomé Scholar will help me to focus primarily on learning and spend less time seeking funding.”

Kurz is an aspiring conservation scientist, pursuing a B.S. in environmental systems science. She graduated from Wylie East High School in Wylie, Texas, as a 2021 Birmingham Scholar.

“As nature has been such an important part of my childhood, I feel a responsibility to preserve it,” Kurz says. “I know I cannot possibly save the entire planet all by myself, which is why I am so excited and grateful for the opportunities and connections that will be provided to me by the Tomé Scholars to Fellows Program. With their help, I will undoubtedly be able to at least conserve my own personal neck of the woods.”

Piña was born in South Florida and has lived in North Carolina and Texas. He is pursuing his B.S. in environment and natural resources. Piña’s mother is third-generation Swedish, and his father is Venezuelan. At UW, he hopes to deeply explore human connections to the natural world and pursue his passion for environmental conservation.

“Four years of support will hugely relieve financial pressures on my family,” Piña says. “I will soon join two other siblings working through college, as we support extended family in Venezuela and across South America in diaspora from the current crisis. But, even beyond the financial support, I will value the community and mentorship aspect of close connections with Dean Koprowski, fellow scholars and donors who believe in me.”

Potts is a native Wyomingite and graduated with honors from Cheyenne Central High School this year. She was a member of the National Honor Society, Key Club, International Club, and the swimming and diving team. Potts is double majoring in environment and natural resources with a focus on sustainability, and geography with a focus on planning.

“The Tomé Scholars to Fellows Program will provide guidance and direction, allowing me a clear path to my future,” Potts says. “The opportunities to participate in international studies excite me. I believe this experience will allow me to gain a global perspective that would have otherwise been out of my reach. I look forward to the challenge and am honored and humbled by the opportunities that this program will present to me.”

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