2019 Advanced Scholarship Essays

2019 Advanced Training Grant Essay Submissions

Please find the 2019 Advanced Certification Training Grant entries below. SECONN will be awarding one Open Water training grant and one Advanced Training Grant (may be used towards Advanced Open Water and Rescue). Please select your top choice for each category and vote once (link to vote is available on both pages).

Essay 4: Advanced

I am a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut, with a degree in Natural Resources and a concentration in Climate and Water Resources, supported by a minor in Geoscience. I am pursuing a career that will affect positive change for the responsible use of water and the conservation of other natural resources and allow me to apply my field and lab skills.

In my field, the ability to scuba dive is an incredible asset. While studying lakes, diving allows the ability to access the deep water to discover, map, and sometimes remove invasive species. In my employment at Seasonal Research Assistant at Northeast Aquatic Research, my primary responsibilities were to conduct in-the-field measurements of lake water quality parameters such as DO, ORP, conductivity, and pH. My other primary role was to be part of the team that survey and map the aquatic plants of the lakes. This includes identifying species and genus of native, endangered and invasive plants, as well as estimating percent cover and growth. These skills have provided me the opportunity to apply my academic knowledge to the outside world. As I continue to pursue a career in the Natural Resources field, and consider grad school I am struck by how important diving is in scientific research and understanding, and how different it is compared to recreational diving. It is my hope that I can pursue understanding, and protecting the underwater world through my work.

As a new graduate I am presently working on paying off my student loans, while transitioning between seasonal positions. Despite needing a degree for the positions in my field, most positions are temporary and pay entry level wages until you have many years of experience. As such I am not in a position financially to pursue an advanced SCUBA certification without assistance, and would greatly benefit from this scholarship. It would allow me to pursue SCUBA more avidly-both for recreation and career wise.

Essay 5: Advanced

I am currently a sophomore at the University of Connecticut. I saw your advanced Scuba Diving scholarship on the SECONN website and I am extremely interested in this opportunity. Ever since I was a child I have always been interested in the ocean and all of the life within it. Since I could walk and talk, I have felt a deep connection with and for the ocean and everything that lies beneath it. I am currently majoring in Environmental Studies at UCONN with a focus on Pre-Law and the marine ecosystem. My dream job is to become an environmental lawyer and work with fisheries, the United States government, international NGOs and other governments to protect, create and enforce marine policies.  My goal is to help preserve all ocean sea life while maintaining the livelihood of fishermen by keeping their fishing stock stable. I love diving, it’s a beautiful space-like world underneath the water and I want to protect every square inch of it. Diving is not only a pleasure but with this opportunity it will help me understand what the oceans truly look like, from the pollution to the beauty. I want to increase my scuba diving skills so that not only can I enjoy more of the aquatic environment but I can use diving for my career as well. If I want to protect the environment, I have to understand every aspect of what makes it function. I want to go diving with experienced researchers and hear what they have to say about the local fish populations or the amount of plastic in a certain area. I want to be hands on to personally see what’s happening to the oceans biomes.   Then I can truly understand what needs to be done to repair the damage that humanity has done. The goal is to repair the ecosystems and still have enough of the natural resources for fishermen and other people whose lives depend on the oceans. I want to increase my knowledge not only for myself but for the world. I want to understand the totality of the ocean and all life within it in order to make a well-informed decision on policies and laws that benefit both the ocean and the land above it. I care deeply about the ocean and I know if I were to receive this scholarship, I would not only enjoy the thrill of diving but would work to help save the environment that we divers cherish. I was certified in Open water Diving on April 23rd 2017 in Islamorada Florida where I did 4 open water dives in 2 days. I have since dived in Cancun Mexico another 4 times this spring of 2018. I love diving and am ready to achieve the next level and beyond.

Essay 6: Advanced

I was born with saltwater I was born with saltwater coursing through my veins. As a child growing up on Cape Cod the beaches and ocean were my playground, every waking moment I was begging my parents to take me to the beach. However, it wasn’t the waves or the beautiful New England summers that drew me to the beach, it was the opportunity to explore and interact with the plants and animals that also called the cape cod beaches home. Each summer I incessantly begged my grandmother to take me to visit the National Marine Life Center (NMLC), a facility dedicated to preserve and protect the animals of Buzzards Bay and to educate the public in the care of sick marine animals. It was through my visits to this facility that my love for marine animals and their protection and care would truly begin to emerge.  

Every year I returned to update myself on the new patients, learning about the release stories as I counted down the years till I could volunteer. Everything changed for NMLC in late 2007, when the roof to the hospital collapsed, sending the sea turtle and seal rehabilitation operations to a halt. While awaiting the rebuilding of the hospital, at the age of fifteen I began to volunteer. Initially, I started assisting with the Massachusetts headstart program for endangered Northern Red-Bellied Cooters.

Over the next several years I volunteered off and on at NMLC, taking time away to work to help support my pursuit of my undergraduate education, but I always returned to NMLC. In college I advanced to volunteering in the newly built hospital. Each animal care shift began with preparing diets and administering vitamins to each seal and sea turtle patient. Seeing the miraculous recovery of sick patients, dedication of the animal care team and the smiles of children learning about aquatic wildlife has been what has motivated me to pursue a career in aquatic veterinary medicine.

In the summer of 2012, I completed by PADI Open Water SCUBA Diver Certification in an accelerated program. This opportunity truly opened up my eyes to the underwater world beyond the shoreline. SCUBA has provided me the opportunity to share a special bond with my father on our weekend trips together out on the ocean floor together. I’ve always wanted to advance my training in SCUBA, but as a veterinary student finances are tight. Exploring the miraculous underwater world has always been a passion of mine as I continue to pursue opportunities to help the creatures that call it home.

As I look towards the future, I have the mindset of returning to Cape Cod in pursuit of a career assisting with stranding/emergency calls and follow through with the rehabilitation of local marine animals. In the years that I will spend studying veterinary medicine at Western University of Health Sciences I plan to pursue opportunities to broaden my knowledge in aquatic veterinary medicine. Overall, I am confident that the passion and aspirations that I have to help both wild and domesticated animals will never subside; therefore, pursuing a career that follows my passions so closely will continue to provide the growth and fulfillment that I am constantly seeking.

Essay 7: Advanced

 “Every time you dive, you hope you’ll see something new … Sometimes the ocean gives you a gift.” – James Cameron.

Fish fleet across seemingly foreign, intergalactic-like seascapes through the oxidized iron green tinted New England water. This otherworldly perspective, this humbling and vast, darkness is a reminder of just how small us scuba divers, us humans truly are. It is this sobering pressure and immensity that reiterates how the ocean demands our gratitude for providing us not only life itself but this perspective and in turn this experience. Perspective is the root of all experience, and my minimal experience as a scuba diver has granted me the greatest, and most unexpected gift of all, the gift of friendship, of community, and of love.

Senioritis  was kicking in, black $1 McDonalds coffee in hand, I had my knee-high combat boots propped up on the top of my woodshop teacher’s desk when he asked me, pilot, a human-powered submersible submarine.  I said yes, then he and my English teacher financed my basic scuba diving certification. Their dedicated, thoughtful, and compassionate approach to go above and beyond the call of duty of teaching not only inspired me to pursue a degree in education myself, but it laid the foundation that paved the direction for the rest of my life, and what a gift that was.

The direction of my life since then has taken me all over the world. From Caribbean coral speckled shipwrecks to a tiny hunk of rock in the middle Thailand’s gulf, to the beachside bars of Stonington for a cold beer after a colder Dubois dive. Surrounded by the warm smiles of dive buddies from all different walks of life, we share the commonality of community through scuba diving and the ocean’s greatest gifts, this being one of them and one of my favorites at that. It has guided me into the arms of my greatest friends, creating lifelong bonds with people that I literally trust with my entire life, and vice versa. Whether it is the need for the clinks of drinks, a shoulder to cry on, a quick post dive booger check or an extra pair of 5 mm gloves packed only to be borrowed and shared, they’ve got your back, and that’s love.

I fell in love somewhere between my first underwater kiss in Grand Cayman and Koh Tao to the Ocean Frontiers scuba instructor who made me nachos after a day of 100+ ft visibility dives in 72-degree water. He brought his own beer, we liked the same music, and that was it. Since then, we have swum in schools of barracuda together, gone diving in underwater cave dens named after the Devil, and rubbed baby manatee bellies while snorkeling. He makes fun of my Zoop computer and my lack of buoyancy, but I make fun of the fact that he is a warm water wuss. We are now engaged to be married, my lifelong dive buddy.

The truth is, all of my dive buddies are lifelong dive buddies. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what this essay is about; the hunger for travel, for experience, for surfacing as the sun starts setting over the horizon, for salty wetsuit hugs, and the “did you see thats!?” This is my life now, and I would not be the person I am today if my woodshop teacher never asked me to dive and if my English teacher never found the funding for my certification. I wouldn’t be a submarine pilot, an English teacher, a scuba sister to some very lovely ladies, or even a future wife. I wouldn’t be a diver. Which is why I hope SECONN considers me for an advanced scuba certification scholarship, to continue growing, learning, diving, and loving, to continue being a part of this community that has aided in facilitating all of those things for me. These things and you guys are the greatest and most unexpected ocean gift of them all.  

Essay 8: Advanced

I am applying for the Advanced Certification scholarship because it will help me to pursue my future Masters degree and career path in marine science and education. I was lucky enough to complete my Open Water Certification during the summer of 2017, prior to my semester studying abroad in the Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. There, I was able to dive several times a month, and was exposed to some of the most incredible wildlife I had ever imagined seeing. I dove with Scalloped Hammerhead and Galápagos sharks, as well as Eagle Rays and Green Sea Turtles. Seeing these animals up close and experiencing the wonders of that incredible ecosytem fueled my passion to protect our oceans and continue my studies of Marine Biology. If you had asked me a year prior to that experience if I would have seen myself in that environment, I would have said “no”. Financially, it was very tough for me to afford my certification, but thanks to the help of a few of my family members and the funds I had saved from my summer teaching job, I was just able to cover it. Once I settled in in the Galápagos, many of my classmates went on to complete further certifications at local dive shops. I, of course, wished I could have joined them, but I was also extremely grateful that I had even made it there to begin with and was able to enjoy what my open water certification enabled me to experience. At that point, I was unsure of what exactly I wanted to do professionally, but that all changed after my internship this past summer. With the stipend I was awarded through my school’s Career Service program, I was able to fill a position in the Educational Programs department at the Cape Eleuthera Institute on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas for three months. There, I assisted in executing the logistics needed to organize and deliver experiential learning programs for primary, secondary, and high school groups as well as for professional researchers. For most of the programs, we spent a lot of our time in the water, and I even got to dive with some groups. I could clearly see how large of an impact this experience had on our students, as they were able to directly see the organisms and ecosystems that we had taught them about in the classroom with their own eyes. This experience is what inspired me to go on and pursue further education in marine science and inspire future generations to do the same, especially in the face of the current threats to our planet and marine environments. I was lucky enough to even assist with a coral diving week, where another educator and myself introduced the young divers to the issues plaguing coral ecosystems and how we can potentially help increase the health and survival of their populations by working on projects such as the constructions of coral nurseries. At the institute, I was given another opportunity to further my certifications, but I was unable to afford it, since the stipend I was awarded only covered my room, board, and transportation to and from the island. Most recently, I was presented with a possible opportunity to join one of my professors on a coral research dive this summer in Panama, and it would be required that I have more advanced certification in able to assist in this research. I am certain that I want to pursue a career in marine science and education, and believe I have the skills and experience needed to be a successful advanced diver. Thank you for taking the time to review and consider my application.