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Unity Environmental University Announces Winner of the Fall 2023 Nicholas Holt Challenge Scholarship

Unity Environmental University is thrilled to announce Nevan Burns as the distinguished recipient of the Fall 2023 Holt Challenge Award. This scholarship, worth more than $3,000, is generously provided by the Holt family in honor of the late Nicholas Holt, and is awarded to outstanding Unity students who display a passion for experiential learning, research projects, and internships while embodying the indomitable spirit of its namesake.

For over a decade, the Holt family has dedicated themselves to upholding the legacy of Nicholas Holt, a visionary who was deeply committed to Unity and its environmental teaching program. Holt, an architect, family man, activist, and environmental enthusiast, spent more than twenty years working towards the accreditation of Unity’s robust environmental teaching program. His love for color, trees, and light was equaled only by his unwavering dedication to the cause of environmental education.

The Holt Challenge Scholarship, founded in Nick’s memory, is designed to provide financial support to Unity juniors and seniors pursuing self-initiated, curriculum-based experiential learning projects approved by an academic advisor. It embodies Nick’s ethos of pushing boundaries and challenging oneself to achieve the seemingly impossible.

Nevan Burns, a senior in Unity Environmental University’s Distance Education program, has been selected as the Fall 2023 Holt Challenge Award recipient. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and has embarked on a groundbreaking research project in Florida. Nevan’s research focuses on metal organic frameworks (MOFs), where he is studying the effectiveness of small metal pellets coated in a special organic matter that expands and contracts with daily temperature fluctuations. This innovative approach aims to collect fresh, potable water by attracting and expelling water from the organic material based on temperature changes.

Inspired by the growing need for water in climate-affected communities worldwide, Nevan hypothesizes that extracting water from the air using MOFs is a more sustainable method for areas facing severe drought. His dedication to addressing global water scarcity aligns perfectly with the vision of the Nicholas Holt Challenge Scholarship.

Challenge is paramount to the Fund’s goal because Nick delighted in challenging himself and others to attempt the impossible, to say “I think I can.” Recipients of the scholarship, like Nevin, share Nick’s tenacity to seek projects and experiences that will push their personal and educational boundaries.

A young man, Nevan Burns, in a white a speckled button up smiles at the camera.
Nevan Burns, Nicholas Holt Challenge Scholarship Recipient

“I am very thrilled and honored to be able to conduct such an incredible opportunity! Immense appreciation to you and everyone that showed interest in the project and for providing me this unbelievable opportunity! Still can’t believe it!” Nevan Burns, Holt Challenge Scholarship recipient.

“Nevan’s hands-on work and dedication to making the world a better, more sustainable place, makes him the perfect fit for the Nicholas Holt Challenge Scholarship,” said President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury. “In the coming years, we look forward to identifying more students like Nevan to carry the torch, ensuring Nicholas Holt’s legacy continues to have a lasting impact.”

Unity Environmental University congratulates Nevan Burns on this well-deserved honor and eagerly anticipates updates on the progress and outcomes of his transformative research project. His commitment to pushing the boundaries of knowledge and making a positive impact on water-scarce communities truly embodies the spirit of Nicholas Holt and the mission of Unity Environmental University.