Max Sano.
Max Sano.

F&M Senior Wins Udall Scholarship, Promotes Environmental Awareness

Fall 2021 | National

Franklin & Marshall College Posse Scholar Max Sano has been named a 2021 Udall Scholar. The F&M senior, who is pursuing a degree in government and environmental studies with a minor in Arabic, is also the founder of The Green Zine, a multimedia environmental news platform.

Max is the first F&M student to receive the Udall award, which comes with a grant of up to $7,000 to support honorees in their junior and senior years of college. Students are selected for their leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to Native American nations and to the environment.

“The idea of public service and giving back to something that's bigger has always been part of my mindset.”

“It’s fascinating to meet people who have been able to create change in federal policy, discussing how we connect the climate crisis to disproportionately affected communities that often face the brunt of air pollution, chemical runoff, and more negative effects,” Max says of his Udall network meetings. “It has been incredibly inspiring to learn that there are other students my age who are thinking in similar ways about environmental solutions.”

Max grew up in New York City with his younger brother and parents who ran their own textile design company. Looking back, he says his family moved often, living in different neighborhoods across the city. The experience provided Max with an intimate view of wide-ranging communities and cultures and ignited a passion for public service.

“The idea of public service and giving back to something that’s bigger has always been part of my mindset,” Max says. “It’s probably why I’m really passionate about environmental issues. Because it can’t be just me or other individuals; we have to work together to come up with gargantuan solutions.”

As a high school student at Manhattan’s Lab School, Max was nominated for the Posse Scholarship by his Spanish teacher, Ms. Valentino. He remembers his scholarship win was particularly emotional for his father, who never completed a four-year degree himself.

“My dad never was able to afford to go to college,” Max says. “So for him to see that, it was a dream come true.”

Max hopes to pursue a career focused on sustainability and environmental justice.

Max says he appreciates the school’s rural campus, located in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, for giving him access to nature, a window into local farming and agriculture businesses, and many opportunities to be outside. He currently serves in a number of leadership positions on campus, including as president of the F&M Environmental Action Alliance.

Looking towards his graduation this spring, Max is already exploring fellowship and graduate school opportunities in the hopes of pursuing a career focused on sustainability and environmental justice.

“I would love to be working as a founder of a community garden, and to work with an organization like the Rodale Institute or the United Nations, conducting agricultural and environmental research for policymakers,” Max says. “I see myself plugging into impactful research, but also work that is hands-on.”