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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI student benefits from environment of giving

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KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 17, 2006 -- Kevin MacLeod grew up in rural Hartford, Vt. “I spent every day outdoors when I was growing up,” says the University of Rhode Islands student. “The Appalachian Trail runs right through my hometown. So I’ve always been interested in the environment. It’s fair to say that it’s been my career track since kindergarten.”

The Vermonter must pay out-of-state tuition to URI, but tuition at the University of Vermont would be even more expensive. “I come from an average income family,” explains MacLeod who graduates this month with a degree in environmental science and management. “Paying tuition hasn’t been easy.”

This year, the $841 scholarship MacLeod received from the Lincoln Environmental Endowed Scholarship Fund eased his monetary crunch.

Gary Ezovski, president of Lincoln Environmental in Smithfield, is all too familiar with limited resources. On the advice of his Lincoln High School guidance counselor, Ezovski, one of five children, tepidly applied for financial aid at URI to study engineering. “I didn’t know how I could afford it,” he recalls. He was awarded a $400 grant and given a $400 loan, which covered his first year. By working summers on the railroads during the week and assembling and delivering 400 Providence Journal newspapers on Sundays, he was able to earn his civil engineering degree from URI in 1972.

Ezovski joined Lincoln Environmental 19 years ago, eventually becoming its president. The firm’s engineers and scientists address, analyze, and correct environmental incidents such as hazardous waste and underground storage tank leakage. The firm also performs environmental regulation consulting.

Ezovski established the scholarship in the firm’s name in 2003. “It’s payback for the opportunity URI created for me,” says the North Smithfield resident. “I know how much the help meant to me. I would like to have the same kind of impact on a student.”

Income from the scholarship fund is awarded annually to a student pursuing an undergraduate degree in environmental science, engineering, geology, or chemistry on the basis of merit and financial need.

MacLeod, the URI student, plans to remain in Rhode Island after graduation and search for employment. His fiancée, Sara Brescia, whom he met in Butterfield Dining Hall, is a third-year pharmacy student who will graduate from the six-year program in 2009.

MacLeod says he enjoyed his studies at URI, particularly wetlands management classes with Frank Golet, a professor in the Department of Natural Resource Science, whom MacLeod credits with inventing the field. “The importance of wetlands has never been fully understood. They are an integral part of the ecosystem and a benefit to people as well as animals,” says the 22-year-old student who eventually plans to become an environmental lawyer for the public sector.

PHOTO: Gary Ezovski (left), president of Lincoln Environmental in Smithfield (left) and Kevin MacLeod of Hartford, Vt. URI News Bureau photo by Nora Lewis.