The ocean has always been a part of my life – the summers laboriously spent swimming boeys in Jr Guards, the school trips to aquariums and marine research facilities, the beach days and bonfires that compose my high school memories, even the salty, temperate, air of the coastal community I call home. The ocean has been an unwavering presence, a constant source of joy, calm, and inspiration in my life–that is until I moved to New York City.
‘The Big Apple,’ ‘The Urban Jungle,’ ‘The Capital of the World,’ Manhattan — an acceptance into my dream school, Columbia University, brought me to New York. If you had asked me what I loved last year (during college applications), I would have said, “Politics, travel, global affairs, and dance.” Sure, I recycle and appreciate the environment, but I did not foresee an interest in conservation. I wanted to work in the field of International Politics, combining my passion for politics and travel with a knack for mediation. Culture, adventure, academics, I was poised and ready for The City.
Yet once I was away from it all, once I could no longer idly watch dark waves crashing against the rocks, spend a Saturday afternoon peering into tidepools, or take a morning walk along the shore – I felt incomplete. I was ignorant. Ignorant of the profound role the ocean, and my fortunate proximity to it, played in my upbringing. Scuba diving at a young age cultivated my sense of adventure while the sea’s various creatures and changing currents inspired an interest in the sciences. After a stressful day of school, I could always look forward to an afternoon spent playing in the water or relaxing to the steady swoosh of the waves. Spending this year away from the shore reminded me of my dependence on and respect for the ocean. When summer arrived, I wanted to find an internship that I could be passionate about, and that’s how I came across Ocean Champions: the pragmatic, political approach to protecting my truest companion. I loved the bipartisan appeal and straight forward approach, how they are for the oceans, not parties or politicians. It was the perfect way to combine my interests both in politics and the ocean, while utilizing the skills I’ve acquired at school.
Though I most likely will not become a marine biologist or launch the next conservation non-profit, I will continue to use my studies of political science to protect what I am grateful for. Ocean champions highlighted the gap between information and action in our political system that it’s the politics, not necessarily the policies, that need the most attention when it comes to affecting change, a fundamental lesson that I will carry with me as a continue to earn my degree. Thank you Ocean Champions, I am so grateful for this opportunity.