Calling for change in the environment

Senior wins scholarship for her video about conserving water


Photo courtesy of Christina Van Haren

Senior Christina Van Haren gets ready to record her video about water conservation she created to apply for the Changemaker Scholarship. Overall, the scholarship process took was a time commitment as there were a lot of steps. “Creating the video took five main steps, including research, making a script that would fit the information, recording the audio, recording the media/video, and animating on top of my video,” Van Haren said. “Overall, this process took around 18 hours.”

Camille O'Neill, Sports Director

Many seniors spend the second half of their senior year writing essays to apply for scholarships, but for senior Christina Van Haren, the application process looked a lot different.

After deciding she wanted to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln next fall to major in animal sciences on her way to eventually becoming a veterinarian, she applied for the Changemaker Scholarship, a scholarship for students enrolled in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Because she received this scholarship, Van Haren gets her first semester at UNL completely paid for.

“I was in disbelief for a while,” Van Haren said. “I was expecting a response in June or July, not February. After the initial surprise went down, I was overall extremely happy.”

The application process for this scholarship sounds simple, but it took Van Haren a total of 18 hours to complete. After providing basic information, Van Haren had to create a video relating to one of eight different themes (Feeding the World, New Energy, Biodiversity Sustainability and Environment, Engaging Diverse Communities, Water for the Future, Climate and the Future, Health, and Developing Tomorrow’s leaders). She decided to focus on Water for the Future because she wanted to raise awareness about how much water people are wasting, and she thinks that conserving water would be good for not only human use, but also the environment.

“I got this idea because I remember always getting into arguments with my older sister when we were younger about turning off the water when we brush our teeth,” Van Haren said. “That’s actually how I got the name for Al the Alligator; Al is a nickname my family uses for my sister, Allison.”

Her video included facts about the amount of water Americans waste while brushing their teeth, and Al the Alligator is supposed to remind kids when to turn off the water. The alligator was used in order to attempt to teach the general population about water conservation. in addition to other aspects about brushing their teeth. In order to create her video, Van Haren researched facts about wasting water, wrote a script to outline what she would say, recorded the narration of the video, added the actual video part to it, animated the alligator and added small pictures and text to improve the quality of the video. The requirements for the video were that the video had to be an individual creation, fall under one of the eight themes provided, and be under two minutes long.

Science teacher Justin Higgins helped Van Haren think things through in regards to how she wanted her video to look and the script she used. He thought Van Haren was a deserving candidate for this scholarship, and he believed she has skills that will take her far in life.

“Christina’s video that she made for the scholarship was really good,” Higgins said. “My involvement in this process was helping Christina come up with ideas. She did the rest of the work on her own. She is a deserving candidate for this scholarship because she is a good leader, and through her leadership, she will make the world a better place.” 

The committee members at UNL recognized Christina for her creativity and professionalism. They are excited to see what Christina brings to the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

“Christina did an amazing job with her topic,” College Relations Director for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Sue Ellen Pegg said. “The committee members loved her creativity and her connection with our CASNR grand challenges platform. She brought water into focus, and her idea connects youth with health habits. They also chose Christina for her amazing idea, its connection to real world issues, and the professional job she did presenting her topic to them.”

Van Haren had to balance the application process with participating in other activities, such as winter guard and science team, and that has taught her a lot about responsibility. She will continue to pursue her passion for becoming a veterinarian through her studies at UNL and when she goes on to vet school.