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Carter Raef


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I'm a nerd in school who also happens to play soccer. I've helped coach four different youth soccer teams, been on a humanitarian aid trip to Limuru, Kenya, and spent more time obsessing over Star Wars than I care to admit. I try to be as aware as I can about the world around me, which is why I know that humanity's current model for living on Earth can't last until after I die. I also know that if we manage to fix a few key problems then we as a species should be just fine. It's why I want to get into the relevant fields and start working as soon as I can, for myself, my neighbor, my children, and their children.


Arlington High School

High School
2020 - 2024


  • Desired degree level:

    Master's degree program

  • Majors of interest:

    • Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering
    • Wildlife and Wildlands Science and Management
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Environmental Services

    • Dream career goals:

    • Referee

      US Soccer Federation
      2022 – Present2 years



    2011 - Present13 years

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Global ConnectionsPart-time volunteer.
      2023 – 2023
    Biff McGhee Memorial Scholarship
    I set myself on path to a career outside from a very young age. Animals are fascinating to me, always have been and always will be. Some of my favorite moments in life involve seeing bison, or sloths, or giraffes in the wild. But it was a random guy on an airplane that cemented it for me. I was reading in the window seat, with my mom in the middle (sorry mom) and him on the aisle seat. He asked me what I was reading so late at night, so I showed him my National Geographic book on pufferfish. I was in kindergarten so my reading level wasn't the most advanced. I had a whole stack of National Geographic books for kids on the plane with me. After that I stopped paying attention to him and went back to my books. I was told afterwards by my mother that he asked for our address to send me something. A few days after we returned home an animal encyclopedia arrived and I've never looked back. Now, as a high schooler finished up his senior year I have been fortunate enough to see many of the creatures in that encyclopedia with my own eyes, and it never ceases to amaze me. Nor does it drive me nuts when the people I'm with don't share the same sense of wonder. It's not only the animals either. Sometimes I like to go outside and stare up at the stars. Every time, I'm always struck by how few there are. My ancestors used to look up at the same sky and see ten times the number I do. And when I hike to look at a waterfall, chances are at some point I will see a dam too. I never manage to see a sight without the reminder of human interference. That is, until I went on safari this past summer. I could look out, and see for miles and miles around with not a single sign of humanity in view except for our own jeep. They were some of the greatest days of my life as I saw the circle of life turn around me, entirely uncaring of my presence. I saw zebra eat grass, lions hunt zebra, and hyenas eating the remains of a lion kill, all in less than twenty-four hours of the trip. It was amazing, and while my life here is great, I almost wish I never had to leave. Perhaps in my job, I'll never have to. It's pretty incredible, what so many people fail to appreciate. I know so many people that would rather spend three hours scrolling through TikTok or Instagram reals than go on a hike to a waterfall. And the rain I find so refreshing chases virtually everybody indoors. The outdoors are full of constant movement, sounds, and excitement that should be able to stimulate the brain of even modern teenagers. And as an ecologist, I'm going to spend my whole career out there.
    Book Lovers Scholarship
    It was hard for me to think of a single book that encapsulates as many messages as possible, but ultimately I decided on Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury because he managed to write a science fiction novel that is now bordering on leaving fiction altogether. Perhaps this is a stereotypical answer, but when I read the novel for the first time I legitimately got nervous because of the parallels that can be traced to the real world. For starters, there is the lack of reading. Yes, reading is not outlawed in the real world, though there is a troubling amount of book banning in the country, but for many Americans it might as well be. People can go a year at a time without sitting down and reading a real book, and if they do chances are it is because of school. I can sit down and read a three-hundred page novel in a day and I genuinely believe that it has helped me become a better writer. I've analyzed many different styles, picked up on what does and doesn't sound professional, how to appeal to the emotions. Everybody has to write competently at some point, this scholarship being an example. I think that a lot of people could use a little lesson on the tangible benefits of reading more. The other major parallel I am going to use today is the constant speed and short attention spans. In Fahrenheit 451, road signs are 200 feet long because everybody is going so fast. In today's world online videos; many people's preferred way of getting news and information, are often under a minute long. Ray Bradbury was right, everybody wants to go faster, faster, faster and it's starting to mess people up. You have two seconds before many people scroll on and it's impossible to know what they could be missing. I think that our society as a whole needs to learn to slow down, and stop chasing the worthless dopamine rush of speed. Ray Bradbury did a frighteningly successful job at predicting certain aspects of future society. We now move faster than real comprehension, and are losing touch with the fundamental skills of reading and writing. My hope is that some people would see the troubling parallels between Fahrenheit 451 and their own lives, and try to make a switch.
    Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
    I was thirteen when I was told that while it was true that my Grandpa several months earlier had laid down in bed and never got back up again, that version of the story left out the bullet he put through his brain. I loved my Grandpa, but despite everything that had been done to try to help him, he left me to help my mom through the aftermath of his choices, while I was simultaneously doing the same. I wasn't told for several months the truth of my Grandpa's death because my parents had to come to grips with telling their thirteen-year-old son such a harsh reality, but even while he was still alive I knew he suffered with managing his mental health. Looking back at the months and even years leading up to his death, I've learned a fundamental truth in life; you have to be willing to help yourself. My mother ran herself around to the point of depression trying to help her father, but he wasn't willing to help himself in return. There is a needed desire to not only live, but thrive that cannot be given to somebody. It has to be dredged out of their own mind. I've had the opportunity to apply this lesson in my own life. In the spring of the previous year, I dealt with an apathetic form of depression. For nearly three months total, I suffered from a constant lack of motivation to succeed in sports, school, or my friendships. But I never once considered suicide, nor did I ever attempt self-harm. I loved my family too much to leave them behind with that mess to sort out, and I didn't allow myself to consider the possibility. Twice I was sent to a therapist, but the sessions barely helped me, if at all. I had to be the one putting in the effort to get my mind right. This February, only a couple of months ago, I dealt with the last aftershocks of that constant apathy. Last year, it coincidentally lasted almost the entirety of my junior school soccer season, and my play suffered for it. My mind learned to associate school soccer with apathy, and so I almost didn't play this year. I didn't show on the first day of try-outs and was only convinced to come to the second day by the combined efforts of one of my coaches and a teammate. The next two weeks required me to be constantly aware of my mental state, and to force myself to be happy if I felt myself start to slip. Now, in early May, I'm perfectly fine. The support of other people is an absolute necessity with working through mental health. I have been lucky enough to have parents who have always been steadfast behind me, and friends I can rely on too. But my Grandpa taught me that I have to be willing to help myself too. Just like in soccer, I can't rely on teammates to win the game and have to contribute myself. While I think my Grandpa's death was rather meaningless, perhaps I can give it some meaning. Perhaps if I can attach this lesson to it, he'll still be teaching me for the rest of my life in an indirect way. Grandpa, I love you and I wish you were still here to see me graduate. But I won't let myself make the same mistakes you did.
    Eco-Warrior Scholarship
    I always try to keep my miles per gallon as high as possible while driving. I would absolutely love a hybrid or all-electric car, but new cars are too expensive in today's market. I'm a high school student and certainly don't have enough money to buy any car, but I was lucky enough that my parents could find a used car in good condition. When I have a steady job above minimum wage I'll certainly think about buying a hybrid at the very least, but at the moment all I can do is use as little gas as possible. Typical financial situations are important to consider when making carbon-reducing policies. I also recycle whenever I can and try to make sure that no garbage gets into the recycling can. I know that just a little garbage in with the recycling and the entire can has to be thrown out. Tape has to be ripped off of cardboard boxes, wrappers have to be taken off of bottles or anything else. The lack of ability for our system to sort garbage out of recycling is something that gets me pissed off because that feels like something that can be fixed. We have AI and algorithms on social media that can read users to a tee, but we can't sort our recycling. Untold millions of tons have been added to landfills when they should have been going to recycling. I think it's important to reduce my personal carbon imprint because of the impact that it has on my own quality of life. The increased levels of carbon in our atmosphere have completely derailed our planet's weather patterns to the point where cities are being devastated by floods, and places all around the globe are setting record drought levels. While where I live isn't in any sort of drought, we do get a lot of our food from California, and when California doesn't have enough water, it means that food prices start to go up. The systems our civilizations are built on are designed around the world acting a certain way, and when the world starts acting a different way natural disasters we aren't ready for start happening. Perhaps current problems will get easier after 2080 when global populations are expected to peak, but 2080 won't help most people alive today. Ordinary people need to get involved in reducing their carbon footprints today if we want to end these seemingly constant droughts and fires before we're all senior citizens. Previous generations have put off dealing with the environment for as long as they can, and now it's up to Gen Z onwards to deal with the problems they couldn't.
    Ventana Ocean Conservation Scholarship
    Our oceans cover 70 percent of our planet and are the biggest natural controller of our climate. When Antarctica froze it messed up ocean currents so much that there was an extinction event. The oceans are also the single largest carbon sink on the planet, greater than anything we could likely build and produces 50 percent of all oxygen on the planet. On top of all of this, anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of all life on Earth lives in the ocean. The most biodiverse habitat underwater; the coral reef, is extremely sensitive to changes in the Earth's temperature. Reefs like the Great Barrier are wonders of the world and humans could be single-handedly responsible for killing them. When animals become adapted to specific climates, we can't screw those climates up even a little bit. Plastic in our oceans is in a way almost as big a threat as our changing ocean currents. Plastic can take up to five hundred years to decompose, which means that plastic dumped into our oceans today could continue to kill wildlife well past 2500. Plastic can kill for over twice as long as America has been a country. Some species can't afford to lose members to something like getting tangled up in plastic from a six-pack. There aren't enough whales, sea turtles, sea birds, dolphins, sharks, and everything else that Earth can afford to lose them to trash. I want to pursue a degree in ecology so I can help reverse habitat loss and everything always ties back to the oceans. I'm a firm believer that with the right help in a few specific places, Mother Nature can right her own ship and I believe one of if not the biggest places we can do this is with phytoplankton. The biggest problem to the environment since industrialization has been the influx of carbon into the atmosphere. Since phytoplankton is the biggest remover of carbon from the atmosphere, it makes sense to increase phytoplankton populations. I know that we have to be careful with maneuvers like dramatically increasing the population of something so crucial to the food chain. This whole problem was created by humans messing with the climate, messing with it more could make things worse. And the greatest mass extinction event of all time; the "Great Dying" of the Permian, was caused by an overwhelming increase in phytoplankton populations. But something has to be done and I think phytoplankton could be a great place to start. Phytoplankton levels have been dropping for the past thirty years, not only in the oceans but in freshwater too. Everything in the climate comes back to the oceans and everything that happens in the oceans comes back to the climate. This means that work to protect the oceans doesn't have to be limited only to past the shore, that scope is too limited. Everything that happens on land affects the oceans too, and that's where I want to focus. Our lakes, rivers and ponds also have to be protected to save the ocean. We can't think too small.
    Carol S. Comeau Environmental Scholarship
    I live in Western Washington, and I consider myself very lucky that I do so. Despite climate change, the weather around my home as stayed fairly normal throughout the year - rain for 9 months, be nice for 3. However, it isn't entirely the same; dry months are drier and wet months are wetter. And not this year, but more recent years, there have been major smoke problems in August. Everywhere else I look is either on fire (California, Oregon, British Columbia, Australia, etc.) flooding (Derna) a three year long El Nina, drought (east Africa, south Asia, Australia, etc.) extreme temperatures, and so on. I also fully believe that the problems will be fixed or at least largely mitigated by the time I die. Environmental science is an expanding field and to be blunt, the boomers are dying off. There are a few key issues that need to be addressed that would go a long way. We need to find a way to sink carbon back into the ocean so it doesn't clog up our atmosphere. We need to find a way for sustainable energy to be cheap and affordable so that semi-developed countries like India and China and easily reduce their carbon footprint. And we need to identify keystone species to protect so that Mother Nature can repair herself with minimal effort on our part. I think society as a whole needs to step back and look at the larger picture. Paper straws aren't going to solve anything, because plastic straws aren't the main problem. I want to get out into the field so I can help identify the keystone parts of our ecosystems. I think humans need to trust that Mother Nature has run things perfectly fine for the past several billion years and that if we plug the biggest holes the ship should right itself for the most part. I remember watching a documentary on the discovery of keystone species and thinking to myself "this is it." Micromanaging our climates and ecosystems can be just as harmful as doing nothing at all. As much as the idea of colonizing Mars excites me, I understand that for at least the next hundred years Earth is the only planet for 99.99% of the population to live on. People are dying because of this. The death toll in Derna is over eleven thousand, while ninety-seven are dead in Lahaina. Practically half the world is in drought, and not enough is being done. I don't want to die in a world that is constantly on fire, with not enough crops to eat. I don't want to bring children into the world if they'll just grow up to see it crumple around them. And we can't afford to wait to act because enough generations have done that already.
    “Stranger Things” Fanatic Scholarship
    First I'd have to go with Eleven because she's the only real counter to anything the Upside Down has to throw at Hopkins. The monsters are immune to bullets (because each season would be over in half the time otherwise) and the game plan when a monster attacks half the time is "run unless Eleven is there to delay for a few seconds and then run." When the newly corporeal Mind Flayer attacked the kids at Hopper's cabin is the perfect example. The only person that could actually do anything was Eleven. Joyce is my second pick because she's basically a detective and hasn't been wrong in anything major to date. She's always in the thick of things pushing what sound like conspiracy theories but never are, usually because Will is involved. She's also the adult with the most will to solve the threat and doesn't care what other people think when Will and the Upside Down are involved. Cover her house in lights like a crazy person? No problems. Fight Soviet assassins? All in a day's work. Fly to Russia to rescue Hopper? Is there any other option? It's rare to find somebody so willing to cross both supernatural forces and a global superpower with such little hesistation. Any group taking on the Upside Down needs a member so willing to give everything, and push the others to do so too. I was tempted to have Will as my third and final member because as long as he's in any danger Joyce is going to be popping off with the detective skills but on further reflection, Will isn't of much use. The exception to this is if he has some type of personal connection to the monster, but I'm going to assume that isn't the case for this essay. He certainly contributes otherwise, but it isn't anything invaluable. For most of the kids, you can swap one out for the other without gaining or losing much. Dustin can call in Suzie, Steve is handy with his club, and Nancy is also a good detective, but none of them have any huge deciding factor. I was also tempted to have Eddie just because Eddie's amazing and I would love to have somebody like that at my high school but for my third and final option, I have to choose Hopper. For starters, he has the connections. Hopper calls in Sam Owens at the end of season 3 with what appears to be a group of US Marines. Sure, they come in too late but it's still a nice option to have. He also brings a sense of experience and confidence to whatever group he's in. As a police officer, Hopper is a lot more comfortable and calm under pressure than anyone else from Hawkins. He also works very well with Joyce, so having both on the team is like having some sort of combo bonus. It's kind of an obvious choice, because what makes more sense? Chief of police, or a high schooler?