Intern and Scholarship Recipient Turns Trash into Career Treasure

Senior Rebecca Roth (front, center) attended the 2018 Resource Recycling Conference in St. Louis, MO, in October. Pictured left to right are National Recycling Coalition scholarship recipients Elyse Seibel of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Roth, and Blake Estes of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Back left: Steel Recycling Institute Director David Keeling; back right: Recycling Development Director Jack DeBell, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Rebecca Roth ’19 has turned a childhood game into a college major and potential career. Growing up, the Kirkwood, MO, native regularly drove with her mother and sister to the local recycling center to sort through soda cans, cereal boxes, and Styrofoam packaging.

“At first it was just a game, but I soon realized the impact recycling has over sending all those materials to a landfill,” Roth says.

Fast forward to her college years at Westminster, and Roth fine-tuned her interest in sustainability into a major in Environmental Science with a minor in Geology. Today the avid recycler not only applies her sustainability skills toward the townhouse she shares with four other students, but her interests also helped Roth land an internship last summer and receive a generous scholarship.

Roth completed a competitive, full-time summer internship last May through August with the Missouri State Recycling Program in Jefferson City, MO. Her internship supervisor, State Recycling Coordinator Rob Didriksen, says Roth’s internship application and credentials from Westminster stood out from the many applicants the program received, including a number from other states.

“We had a lot of interest last year — more than any other year in the past,” Didriksen says. “We only picked one intern, Rebecca, and there were many interested in the internship and willing to relocate to do it.”

Didriksen describes Roth as “dedicated and sharp,” willing to both get her hands dirty while also working with others and undertaking a rigorous special-interest project: Roth headed up a study on cafeteria Styrofoam use versus the use of recyclable materials for meals at Jefferson City High School.

Missouri State Recycling Program Coordinator Rob
Didriksen, right, 
encouraged Roth to apply for a
Murray J. Fox Scholarship through the National Recycling
Coalition following 
her stellar internship
performance with the Program.

“She worked with the high school’s green team and presented her findings to the superintendent of the Jefferson City School District,” Didriksen says.   

Ultimately, Roth’s dedication at her internship led Didriksen to encourage Roth to apply for a scholarship from the Murray J. Fox Scholarship Fund through the National Recycling Coalition.

Roth was one of three students from the St. Louis, MO, area to receive a one-time, $2,000 scholarship, which she was awarded in October at the 2018 Resource Recycling Conference in St. Louis. Scholarship recipients also were accepted into the Coalition’s Emerging Leaders Program. “I feel honored to receive this scholarship,” Roth says.

The senior adds that she plans to pursue a career in conservation or “anything outdoors” when she graduates in May. And she says Westminster helped her find her purpose in life.

“I am grateful for my time here and all the experiences that Westminster has offered me,” Roth says. “I have learned so much and will forever remember all the amazing people I’ve met here.”

For more information on doing a Missouri State Recycling Program internship through Westminster, or for internship information in general, please contact Assistant Director/Internship Coordinator Mandy Plybon at 573-592-5383 or


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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.