How a UW Certificate Scholarship led to a career path for the future — and a chance to help protect the planet.
Passionate about environmental science since she was a teenager, Rebecca Bramwell always wanted to protect Earth’s ecosystems and make the world a better place.
Today, Rebecca is realizing her dream. As a professional wetland ecologist, Rebecca uses the skills she gained through UW education to protect wetlands, streams and shorelines in Western Washington — thanks in part to financial support from a UW Certificate Scholarship.
“I didn't have to worry about the cost of my education — I felt like every door and every window opened before me,” Rebecca says. “Now, I have the opportunity to protect these places that are important for climate change, while helping people develop sustainably.”
MAKING A DREAM POSSIBLE
After Rebecca earned a bachelor's degree in environmental science and cultural and global studies, she felt she had the right scientific expertise and knowledge, but she needed state-specific training or credentials to progress in her career.
Because Rebecca attended several colleges as she worked to pay her way through school, she hadn’t regularly worked with professors or career mentors. As a result, when Rebecca moved back to Seattle to start her career, she struggled to determine how to become a strong candidate for jobs in her field.
When she asked environmental professionals in the area what she could do to boost her resume, Rebecca discovered the UW Certificate in Wetland Science & Management was the key to jump-starting many of their careers. She decided to apply — and was ecstatic when she was accepted.
“I remember feeling like, this is it,” Rebecca said. “It's really going to happen for me now.”
However, one big question remained: How would she afford the certificate program? Rebecca knew the program was the ticket for moving her career forward, but the pandemic had taken a toll on her finances. “I was concerned about the cost and knew I was going to have to cut back how much I was working to be in school,” she says. “Paying for the program felt like a big barrier for me.”
She discovered the UW Certificate Scholarship, applied, and UW Professional & Continuing Education recognized her potential with a scholarship award that covered most of her tuition and fees.
UW Continuum College launched the UW Certificate Scholarship program to help break down barriers to continuing education and allow more people to build skills for today’s workforce. Since 2017, these need-based scholarships have supported more than 100 students in select UW Professional & Continuing Education certificate programs.
“I didn't have to worry about my finances,” Rebecca says. “I got so much more out of the program because I could engage with the program’s content and my cohort without that added layer of stress.”