Ben Bramhall ’07 Wins H. D. Thoreau Scholarship

Benjamin Bramhall ’07 recently received a Henry David Thoreau Scholarship, which he will use as he matriculates to Dartmouth this coming fall. The scholarship, awarded by the Henry David Thoreau Foundation, awards up to $30,000 to “highly talented and academically successful young women and men to pursue under-graduate studies preparing them for leadership in advancing the quality of life for all individuals, protecting the environment, and ensuring equitable and sustainable use of the world’s natural resources,” according to their website. Recipients may choose to attend any college in North America, though most of the past scholars have selected schools in the Northeast. Scholars may pick any desired major, but 25% of their course work must be loosely related to environmental studies. Applicants must also be residents of Massachusetts and, once selected, are required to submit annual reports to the foundation documenting their work in the environmental studies. Bramhall learned of the scholarship after stumbling upon it using an online college Search-engine. Already having received early admittance to Dartmouth, he decided to apply and learned he was chosen as a recipient shortly thereafter. As an active member of Eco-Action and a student in AP Environmental Science, Bramhall knew that environmental studies was something he wanted to pursue, regardless of whether he received the scholarship or not. For his Environmental Science project, Bramhall studied the effects of the Green Cup Challenge as part of a global response to climate change. According to Rebecca Bogdanovitch, Sustainability Coordinator, he was a main student leader in starting the project at Andover and offered his insights and ideas throughout the entire process. Multiple faculty members as an outstanding student, athlete and role model have recognized Bramhall. Alice Purington, Bramhall’s College Counselor, said, “He’s amazing. My question is, what can’t this young man do?” She continued, “Right across the board he has enormous firepower, yet he’s incredibly modest. . . he’s one of the kids who is emblematic of what we say we believe in as a school—combining head and heart. He’s got a spirit and a heart and soul that makes you feel like he’s going to make a difference in the world. I can’t think of anyone who would be a more powerful representative [of Phillips Academy].” John Stableford, instructor in English and Bramhall’s house counselor, felt similarly. “[Bramhall] is a quiet and sensitive leader and he’s wonderfully driven. He’s unusual in the tone with which he conducts himself.” Stableford noted Bramhall’s concern in environmental issues on group trips in nature in which Bramhall seemed right at home. Bramhall’s interest in the environment began at a young age. Bramhall was raised for the first seven years of his life in close proximity to the beach in which, as he says, “there was not much else to do than be outside.” The house he lived in was environmentally friendly—windows were positioned to maximize solar input. Wind power and portable photovoltaic solar energy sources were also used. Bramhall said, “I never really thought about it, but I guess [environmental awareness] was always ingrained in me as part of my daily life. I was always taught about being environmentally conscious, and I was always really psyched about it.” Bramhall remains open-minded about his plans for the future. Ms. Bogdanovitch said, “Ben is a devoted and capable student of the environment and I feel confident that he will continue to excel in this area as a Thoreau Scholar at Dartmouth. At Dartmouth, he will at the opportunity to explore a variety of fields and make meaningful connections between his studies and his passion for conservation and renewable energy. The college is very lucky to have him.” Though he is unsure of what specific area he will pursue in college, Bramhall said he is interested in working with wind as an alternative energy source. He has been taking German at Andover and noted that Germany has done a lot of work in alternative energy utilization, something he could work towards in the future. He has heard that Dartmouth may be setting up windmills close to the campus in the near future and said he would definitely try to become involved.