Bay Ridge science whiz receives scholarship to pursue her dreams

November 24, 2015 Jaime DeJesus
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A Bay Ridge resident and science whiz with an incredibly bright future is quickly honing her skills and knowledge in one the nation’s best colleges.

Fauna Mahootian, currently a freshman at the University of Michigan where she is pursuing a degree in environmental science, was recently named  one of 10 recipients of the Arborjet “Taking Root” College Scholarship. Each winner is given a $1,000 scholarship to pursue his or her studies in various sciences.

For Mahootian, it was one of her proudest moments in her young career. “The scholarship was definitely a highlight,” she said. “It was fantastic because the expensive out-of-state tuition is the reason that I applied. I really needed the money to offset the debts.”

She is also pleased with how her first semester at college has been. “Surviving the first few months of college and being more independent has felt great,” Mahootian explained. “Michigan has been great and I’m adjusting pretty well. Being away from my family has been hard since they seem so far away.”

Despite feeling homesick at times, the scholar has adjusted well in her new surroundings. “I’m definitely happy with my decision. The program here is well suited for me, especially the scientific aspect of environmental science,” she said.

Mahootian developed a love for nature and the sciences partly due to her family’s background and her moving several times before settling in Brooklyn. “I used to live in West Virginia where it was real rural. I fell in love with our two acre backyard,” she said. She also moved to Arizona before moving to Bay Ridge when she was 14 years old.

“I really like it in Bay Ridge. The atmosphere really suits my personality, especially the area’s carefree attitude,” she added. “I especially love the Narrows Botanical Garden.”

Science runs in the Mahootian family. Her grandfather was a graduate student at Michigan in neuroscience, her father got a master’s degree in chemistry and teaches the philosophy of science at NYU, and her mother also receiver her masters in the sciences.

“My parents were definitely an inspiration,” she said. “They were always environmentally conscious.

When she moved to Brooklyn, Mahootian attended the challenging Stuyvesant High School. “In a lot of ways, it was more stressful than college has been, but it was great because it prepared me for life,” she explained. “It showed me how to face my flaws and how to make myself better. If I hadn’t gone there, I wouldn’t have learned about the things I did.”

As Mahootian’s knowledge expands along with her aspirations, she knows that she wants to improve the planet in some way. “With the current environmental issues the world is facing, I feel it is my responsibility to help the world become better in that respect,” she explained. “I’m still not sure about the area of environmental sciences. I want to try to make a change on a global scale.”

During her free time, Mahootian enjoys playing the guitar. During high school, she also participated on a competition team called Envirothon. “We competed in different areas of wildlife and did oral presentation on current issues each year,” she recalled. “I really liked it. I was captain senior year.”

With all that she has accomplished in such a short amount of time, Mahootian had advice for those with similar goals. “Don’t be afraid to go after something,” she urged. “If you want it, don’t let it hold you back from trying.”

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