Allie O., 25 – FUNDED

Despite personal tragedy, Allie O. has persevered and learned more about herself while on the path toward her dreams. This Paliwal Club of 100 STEAM Scholar is currently an undergraduate at the University of Maine and working on her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Marine Science. She also has her eye on heading to Antartica in the future!

What is your professional dream?

My dream is to be a marine ecologist and scientific diver — and to dive and conduct research in Antarctica!

What does being in the Paliwal Club of 100 mean to you? 

I feel beyond honored to have been selected and to have my passion for science diving recognized and supported.

Women are underrepresented in the S.T.E.A.M. (science, tech, arts or math) fields and music industry. How can we change this? 

To gain the training and experience women need to achieve their dreams in STEAM and mentor others requires greater costs than just tuition. Grants such as this one help open opportunities for women to grow beyond just classes. Those who receive support can then go on to support other women as both role models and mentors, helping to blaze a trail for those who will come next.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

I’ve faced multiple challenges along my academic journey. When I was 19, my partner passed away and, grief-stricken, I dropped out of school. In my time away from school, I traveled and volunteered — healing and learning my own passions along the way.

As a diver working toward my scientific diving certification, my training was delayed multiple times due to COVID and/or financial constraints. But, after years of persistence, I am finally now a scientific diver!

Also, as a financially independent older undergrad, I’ve had to find ways to afford my education and dreams. Scholarships and grants like this are helping to make my dreams possible.

How will this grant from the 1,000 Dreams Fund help you reach your goals?

I dream of diving in Antartica one day for research, however, Antartica is a very cold place — with even colder water. It takes a lot of specific dive training and skills to get there, which I cannot afford on my own. This grant will help me to finally afford a drysuit — a suit that will keep me warm and dry and allow me to train and conduct research underwater during Maine’s harsh winters, preparing me for Antartica one day.