Meteorologist Maria Molina is leaving Fox News Channel to pursue her PhD at Central Michigan University.

"It's been very tough to make this decision. It took many, many months of thinking about it," she explained.

Molina said she's excited to blaze a trail for other Hispanic women, pointing out that a very low percentage have received a PhD in Earth science.

She said that the recent anniversary of Hurricane Andrew had special significance for her. She recalled that, growing up in south Florida, she realized during the Category-5 storm that she wanted to be a meteorologist when she grew up and "forecast dangerous weather" for the public.

Molina, a Nicaraguan refugee who became a U.S. citizen, said she's "forever grateful" to Fox News for the opportunity to cover numerous significant weather events like Superstorm Sandy and the Japan tsunami in 2011.

She said she'd love to return to on-camera work in the future or do some reporting in Michigan while she's a student.

Molina married Reed Timmer, a pro storm chaser, last December in an amazing ceremony that took place near an active volcano in Nicaragua.

Watch Maria's "Fox and Friends" farewell above and send her some well-wishes on Twitter!

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