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Ethan Shavers

Class of 2017
B.S., Geology | M.S., Sustainability | PhD, Environmental Science & GIS
Saint Louis University

I have invested years towards educating myself and discovering which purpose I consider mighty.

In describing the educational journey of Dr. Ethan Shavers, it seems advisable to begin with the end. Except, in Ethan’s case, there is no reason to think that his PhD is an end. In fact, it is a means.

In 2010, Ethan applied to The Scholarship Foundation with an essay that began with this quote:

“In his book, Man and Superman, George Bernard Shaw wrote, ‘This is the true joy of life, being used up for a purpose recognized by your self as a mighty one…my life belongs to the community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can.’

In the eight years since, Ethan (Soldan International Studies High School, Class of 1996) has transferred from community college to Saint Louis University, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with his bachelor’s in geology. He then went on to earn his PhD in Environmental Sciences and GIS. His research focused on integrating remote sensing and economic geology. He has published three peer-reviewed journal papers and is now a U.S. Geological Survey Mendenhall Research Fellow, stationed in Rolla, Missouri and working with a team there to develop methods to validate national hydrography data so it is available in “real time.”

Ethan was 31 when he first applied to the Foundation, having completed several semesters on the Dean’s List at St. Louis Community College. He explained then what is very clear now:

“I have invested years towards educating myself and discovering which purpose I consider mighty. After high school I wanted to experience professional life first-hand before I attended college. I spent time in landscaping, retail, real estate management, and restaurants, along with every aspect of the construction industry. I never felt passionate, but I do now. Sustainable agriculture and water management are my future…A central theme of my aspirations is the improvement of natural resource management. The earth is a treasure to be treated with respect and its well-being deserves our attention. While I am impressed with some new techniques in the field, in general I feel we are underperforming. We should be able to supply food and potable water for everyone with our present scientific understanding and diverse history of agriculture and aquaculture engineering.”

At present, Ethan commutes between the USGS in Rolla during the week and on weekends the home in St. Louis that he shares with his partner (Kelly Sullivan, foster and adoptive care advocate and also an SF alum) and their three sons. In completing his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs, Ethan borrowed a total of $40,000 interest-free from The Scholarship Foundation. He was the first James Joshua Romeis Designated Scholar, honoring the memory of another hydrologist (with a PhD) who died too early in 2009. Ethan, who lost both his parents at an early age, was a poetic and perfect fit for this memorial to another who found his passion in water and environmental science.

A scholar, researcher, father, and citizen of the planet, Ethan has become the very Superman his essay described just eight years ago. He is well positioned to contribute mightily to the human community on a planet desperately in need of care.