2019 Recipient Essays

2019 Training Grant Recipient Essays

Tzipporah Kapilevich – Open Water Training Grant

I am originally from Boston, MA, and I now live in Rhode Island and study at a university in New York. My current academic interest as a Junior majoring in Biology at Lander College for Women, include biology, health sciences, ecology, environmental studies, and marine conservation. I am a proactive student who enjoys working hard and achieving both intellectual and personal growth.

As a child, growing up in New England, I had the incredible opportunity to live near the coast. I come from a family of 8, and because I have such a large family we were never able to go to summer camp or take family vacations. Yet, I remember having the best summers as a child. I swam, sailed, kayaked, and windsurfed. All of these opportunities were made possible through the incredible work done by Community Boating in Boston. CBI is a non-profit sailing club based on the Charles River in Boston. I was able to go sailing every summer for $1. It was at CBI where I was able to be involved in competition, make life-long friends, and receive addition education in STEM and environmental conservation awareness.

I later went on to volunteer at CBI as a junior-sailing instructor and give to others the way CBI gave to me. I further went on to train and work as a lifeguard at the JCC in Rhode Island, where I have taught water safety skills to children and adults for the last 5 years. I recently received my Lifeguard Instructor certification and I am now able to give back and educate future lifeguards in water safety and rescue skills.

I want to become PADI Open Water Dive Certified in order to further my interests in marine conservation and add to my collection of aquatic skills. All my life, I have been privileged enough to be able to participate in aquatics through the generosity of others. My goal is to be able to use all the skills I have been able accumulated and use them to give back to my community. My goal is to open an aquatic training facility, that promotes learning and safety. I intend to be able to provide the same low-cost services that were available to me as a child, to those cannot afford to pay for them. I want to offer need-based scholarships for swimming lessons, low-cost dive certification for teens, lifeguard and aquatic safety classes to the community, and conservation volunteer travel opportunities. I am confident that this grant will bring me one step closer to my goal. Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration.

Katie Roberts – Open Water Training Grant

Having never actually done a dive, I nonetheless feel deeply invested in SCUBA and the process of learning and growing through the practice. I’ve had the opportunity to see SCUBA diving in an intimate way – my boyfriend of two years has recently completed his Dive Master training, and I’ve accompanied him to many New England Dive events.

Because of him, I see SCUBA as this amazing avenue to a world so far removed from my everyday life. In my professional life, I work in a scientific research lab. I’m very used to the synthetic world of beakers and test tubes, but I was afforded the opportunity to work with a unique species of aquatic salamander – the axolotl. Working with these amphibians has led to a greater curiosity about the wildlife inhabiting the lakes, oceans, and rivers that surround me in both Connecticut as well as the world. Unfortunately, the axolotl is almost completely extinct in the wild. This impressed upon me the importance of going and seeing what’s out there while it’s still there. With climates changing, and the oceans experiencing increased levels of carbon and pollution, I know that time is ticking. I have a genuine love for all animals and the environment; being exposed to SCUBA has deeply impressed on me the fact that I need to seize the day and go see as much as I can while I can. A species may not be here five years from now, so what am I waiting for? Diving would present me with the chance to change the way I see the world as well as allow me to more greatly appreciate all the species we share the planet with. I have a deep love of learning new things and would be so grateful for the chance to learn to dive and grow as a person in the process. 

My boyfriend is the biggest motivating factor in wanting to learn how to dive. In the time I’ve known him, I’ve been able to see him both study for and complete his Advanced OW, Rescue Diver, and Divemaster courses. There is something indescribable about the pride I feel in seeing how hard he works, and how impactful his accomplishments have been in his life. SCUBA has been such a big portion of his life that I want to be able to share in it with him and make it a part of mine. Something that is so important to him has naturally become something that I have a vested interest in and care deeply for. Being able to dive will inevitably bring us closer together as we explore new places and have new adventures together underwater.

I’ve always considered myself someone who believes in pushing themselves to learn new things, and this is something that I very much want to learn. This would be something so far from the ‘norm’ for myself, but I’m ready to take the plunge both literally and figuratively. I want to explore New England at new depths, and I want to be afforded the opportunity to grow closer with someone I love. Being granted this scholarship would be a way for me to grow personally in most areas of my life, and I’m ready to take on the exciting challenge of diving.With the assistance of the SCUBA scholarship being offered, I can take the first steps towards becoming certified. This scholarship would help to alleviate some of the financial stress I feel, as I am also still in school. Trying to afford both collegiate classes and SCUBA classes at once would create too much of a financial burden, but this scholarship would help to make becoming certified a reality.

Elizabeth St. Germaine – Advanced Training Grant

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.