At a Glance
Major(s): Meteorology & Atmospheric Science
Activities: Honors College, Internships, Study Abroad, River Hawks Scholars Academy
Jamie-Lyn Cavallon decided she wanted to be a meteorologist when she was 9 years old, after a tornado touched down in Westfield, Massachusetts, traveled through Cavallon’s hometown of Agawam and then devastated the neighboring city of Springfield.
The 2011 tornado – unusually severe for the region – made the national news.
“There were green skies and it was hailing,” Cavallon says. “When something like that happens outside your back door, you don’t forget it.”
Now Cavallon is studying meteorology and atmospheric science at UMass Lowell, the only public Massachusetts college or university to offer the major – and a more affordable option for her than any other school she applied to. Her financial aid package includes state and federal grants, scholarships and a work-study job.
Cavallon also was attracted to UML by an invitation to join the River Hawk Scholars Academy (RHSA), a “unique” supportive program for first-generation college students, she says. Her peer leader in the RHSA, Debby Fernand, encouraged her to try out different student clubs and service opportunities.
Cavallon joined the campus chapter of the American Meteorological Society right away. As a sophomore, she became a peer leader in the RHSA, and as a junior, she went on the first-ever RHSA study abroad program to Granada, Spain. She now works as an office assistant for the program.
“Lining up the RHSA helped me line up a lot of other things,” she says. “Now, I just try to help other students any way I can, especially first-generation students coming into college.”
Cavallon also joined the Honors College after earning strong grades in her first semester.
“I wanted to be in another small community and take classes outside my major,” she says.
Her hard work paid off with a “very good opportunity.” She applied for, and was granted, a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates internship at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire over the summer of 2023.
Cavallon researched how the terrain in Maine and New Hampshire, including the White Mountains, affects summer thunderstorms. The program, a partnership with Hobart and William Smith Colleges, culminated in a conference at SUNY-Albany where she presented her research poster.
She will continue the research for her honors thesis, mentored by Prof. Frank Colby. She is also starting to look for meteorology jobs in the private sector, she says, perhaps for an insurance firm doing catastrophic forecasting and risk analysis, or for a company that provides on-site forecasts for golf tournaments.
In the meantime, she’s planning events for the campus chapter of the American Meteorological Society. She’s the group’s first woman president, and it’s her second year in the role.
In Cavallon’s first year as president, she invited the National Weather Service to train the students to be severe weather spotters. She also brought in alumni to speak, including Michael Souza ’13, ’14, a meteorologist for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, and television meteorologist Lena Arango ’19, ’20.
That’s because she knows how important it is for students to network as they explore potential careers.
“Meteorology is such a small community in terms of careers,” she says. “And if the alum doesn’t work in that field, they might know someone who does.”