OU’s AMS Freshman Scholarship Winners Reflect on Their First Year

OU’s AMS Freshman Scholarship Winners Reflect on Their First Year

During the 2019-2020 academic school year, the School of Meteorology was privileged to have two of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Freshman Scholarship winners commit to obtain their meteorology degree from the University of Oklahoma. Marshall Baldwin, from Irving, Texas, and Joey Rotondo, from Sandwich, Massachusetts, just finished their first year of the program.

Baldwin and Rotondo’s interests in meteorology both started in their childhood.

“When I was 8 or 9, I used to be terrified of the severe weather warning on the radio,” Baldwin said. “Even if a tornado warning was issued for another county, I’d make my parents empty out the closet under the stairs so that I could go and sit there until the storm passed. My parents quickly got tired of this, so my dad did what he always does: he got me a book on weather. Not only did learning a bit about tornadoes from the book dispel my fear of them, but it also piqued my curiosity about the field of meteorology in general.”

“I have always had a connection to meteorology and have been very interested in it since my childhood,” Rotondo said. “Some meteorologists link one storm to their interest and mine would definitely have to be Winter Storm Nemo of 2013 which decimated my hometown and canceled school for two weeks.”

After receiving the AMS freshman scholarship, both Baldwin and Rotondo decided to take their academic talents to OU.

“OU’s meteorology program is one of the best in the country, if not at the top!,” Baldwin said. “We have the National Weather Center, a curriculum designed for meteorology majors, and students from every corner of the country. Additionally, OU’s recruitment played a large factor in my final decision. Not only do they give a generous National Merit Scholarship, but all of OU’s staff, especially Shelby Hill, were incredibly friendly and helpful.”

Rotondo agreed that visiting with the fantastic School of Meteorology faculty and staff solidified his college decision.

“My visit with Dr. Martin inspired me to commit to OU due to the many wonderful opportunities available throughout the program,” Rotondo said.

After reflecting on his first year at OU, Rotondo feels like he gained more than just a great education.

“My first year went great!,” he said. “I had the opportunity to learn from world-renounced OU professors while also becoming more involved in the Oklahoma Weather Lab and several other student organizations. I had a great experience in the President’s Leadership Class as I interacted with some of the most interesting students in OU’s class of 2023. The School of Meteorology has been an amazing home away from home as I have made many meteorology friends and hope to continue to do so within the coming years.”

Rotonda learned better study skills and how to successfully interact and network with his professors and other people in the National Weather Center.

Next up: sophomore year!

“I am very excited to start taking more major-specific classes as well as continue as an undergraduate research assistant in the Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling,” Rotondo said. “I look forward to being the Director of Shifts in the Oklahoma Weather Lab as I continue to learn more in the School of Meteorology.”