Environmental Science Student Finds Inspiration in Peers and Professors

Symone Franks found her path at UMKC and hopes to inspire others
Symone Franks sits on an orange couch in a large, open room and smiles at the camera

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Symone Franks
Anticipated graduation year: Spring 2025
UMKC degree program: B.S. Environmental Science, environmental sustainability minor, honors program
Hometown: Grandview, Missouri

Symone Franks chose to come to UMKC because of the undergraduate research opportunities and diverse student body. In her time here, Franks has been motivated and inspired by her fellow students and professors.

“I admire everyone’s goal for excellence here at UMKC,” said Franks. “When I talk to other students and faculty, everyone seems to have something big that they are working toward.”

A first-generation student, Franks is a KC Scholar and Marion Bloch Scholar. She says that without these scholarships, she would not have been able to fulfill her dream of attending college.

Why did you choose your field of study?

Environmental science has always interested me, and my dream job is working at the EPA. My degree program will give me a great foundation to get there.

What are the benefits and challenges of the program?

I love how tight knit the program is. I feel as if I can go to faculty members with any questions I have. The department also places a big emphasis on hands-on work, which has been beneficial to me.

The program can be challenging because it covers a broad area of study, so you are exposed to a lot of information.

Symone Franks works on her laptop in a large, brightly-lit room. A student, out of focus, sits in a chair in another part of the room.

How has your college program inspired you?

When I started college last year, I was sure I wanted to do something related to the environmental sciences, but I had no idea what I wanted to do specifically. After taking my first environmental science class, I was inspired by my professor's excitement about climate science. The program as a whole has inspired me to follow my dreams of working for the EPA and given me the confidence to know I can make it happen.

What does being a first-generation student mean to you?

Being a first-generation college student comes with a lot of responsibility. I am not just going to college for my own success but for my entire family’s success.

What other extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC?

I am involved with Kansas City Explores Earth and Environment (KC E3). This is a paid training program that is run through the earth and environmental science department.

I’m also in the Honors Program and am an honors ambassador. As an ambassador, I communicate and meet with potential students. I really enjoy the Honors Program; the connections I've made with other students and professors in those classes are unique. The important conversations we have in classes are something I've never experienced in a standard learning environment. 

Symone Franks rests her chin in her head and looks at the camera

What are you most proud of during your time at UMKC?

I had the opportunity to be a part of a team that welcomed around 40 middle school girls to campus for Earth Day with KC E3! It was such an amazing experience to be the role model that I wanted when I was younger.

What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career?

I hope to take the spirit of excellence into my professional career. I want to continue to always ask questions and aim for better things.

Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself?

I learned that fulfillment is something that I will always be chasing. Before I came to college, my main goal was to make enough money to be successful. Now I realize that I need to be doing a job that contributes to the good of other people, not just myself.

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