Gear Grant

Gear Grant Essays

The following essays were submitted for our 2020 Scuba Gear Grant. This grant was open to all ages and dive skills.

Please read through the essays and follow the link (at the bottom) to vote for you favorite three.

Please vote by July 8!

*Please note that SurveyMonkey will be down for maintenance on July 3.

Essay 1

My brief diving experience began during the Fall 2019 academic semester at UConn. The adventure center offers a SCUBA open water certification once per semester at a discounted rate so I thought I would give it a try with some encouragement from my brother, an avid diver. I borrowed some of his gear and New
England Ski and Scuba, the dive shop facilitating the course, supplied the rest. Throughout the course, as we were allowed to dive in progressively deeper swimming pools, I became more and more personally invested in diving.

The open water certification dives occurred at Bigelow Hollow in late September. I could only see a couple feet in front of me and was cold the entire time, yet somehow it was still amazing. I will never forget how hard it was to not stir up the silt by bumping into the bottom and how rewarding it felt when we discovered a small sunken boat. The few fish I saw in the murky darkness still excited me as I felt just like them.

Diving to me is more than just a hobby. Of course, I find everything about it thrilling and I cannot wait for the next time that I can go diving. But on top of how great diving is, I see it as a way to grow closer to my brother. We have different personality types and do not have many hobbies in common except diving. I would love to be able to accompany him on a diving adventure that we have talked so much about. However, I have not gone diving with him yet due to our lack of gear since all the gear I use is his.

Shortly after receiving my certification, I got in touch with the UConn Avery Point SCUBA Club in order to be a part of a diving community, but mainly to have access to dive gear. It may have been October already and the water was freezing, but I wanted to go diving! In order to borrow gear, I first had to complete a checkout dive with a club officer to assure them that I am qualified and capable. In the area that we were diving which was less than 10 feet deep, I was amazed by the amount of seaweed and other plants flowing beautifully with the tide. The visibility was good and this was my favorite dive even if it was one of the least exciting for the club officer. On top of that, I was diving wet while the club officer was diving dry which I was certainly jealous of but did not ruin the dive.

This has been my entire diving experience, limited to only a couple of open water dives in frigid water. I want to continue to add to this list as the water begins to warm up, but the COVID crisis has thwarted my plans as it has for so many. I would normally be able to rely on the Avery Point SCUBA Club to have gear to use, but with UConn temporarily closed, this is no longer an option. Having my own gear would allow me to be able to dive with my brother during these uncertain times, but alas I cannot. It is so unfortunate how I have the training and a dive buddy, yet my diving is completely limited by my lack of gear.

Essay 2

Diving is a safe haven. It is a world in which one can blend in with the beauty of aquatic wildlife. It provides one with the opportunity to encounter a side of nature that so many dream of, but only few get to experience. To me, diving is coexisting. Coexisting with the colorful Queen Angelfish, the majestic eagle ray, the intimidating barracuda, and the prickly sea urchin. Diving is an escape; an escape from school, from parents, from social media, from the real world.  Diving captures aspects of history, up close and personal, that many only read about in history books.

Diving means exploring shipwrecks of oil tankers, passenger liners, and military destroyers that people used to walk the decks of. Diving can put you in the present, past, and even into the future. Together, these aspects of diving mean the world to me.
Ever since I was young, something drew me to the mysteriousness and peculiarity of the underwater world. For my 13th birthday, I asked for scuba lessons. Little did I know that this would be a gateway into my passion for diving and ultimately my desire to one day serve my country in the United States Navy.

My goal is to achieve the Master Scuba Diver Certification before I graduate high school. I am currently enrolled in the Rescue Diver Class and I have one more specialty class until I have completed the education portion of the certification. Most of my income from my part time job has been spent on PADI certifications, which we all know can be expensive. On top of the expensive PADI classes, I also have to rent gear. This scholarship will minimize my gear expenses, providing me with the opportunity to dive more often and allowing me to log the dives needed to achieve Master Scuba Diver.

Thank you so much for your time, consideration, and most importantly, this opportunity to help divers get in the water and experience all the underwater world has to offer

Essay 3

When you ask a kid what they would like to do when they grow up, they often say something wondrous like becoming an astronaut or the president. When I was a young kid, I had my heart set on one thing: I wanted to be a seal – or really, any marine mammal. How great that would be, I thought. While underwater in my family’s inflatable pool I would practice holding my breath and imagine I was in the ocean surrounded by bright beautiful coral. My imagination had no limit. Later on, it became clear that neither myself nor seals could breathe underwater (a trip to Mystic Aquarium cleared up the confusion). My love and fascination with the ocean never died. I attended an Aquaculture high school in New Haven and learned how to cultivate and maintain various sea life. In 2015, I spent a week at the Bermuda Institute of Oceanic Sciences. After a full day of snorkeling we would head back to the classroom for a quiz on the types of fish we saw.

I never thought I could afford to do something as grand as scuba diving. I came from a family of hard workers with little money. They could hardly pay the bills, nevertheless, do things for pleasure. My father had completed a PADI certification in his early twenties, he told me about his dive experiences and how much he loved watching Jacques Cousteau growing up. Like many people, he got lost in the world of family life and working day-by-day until diving became a fond distant memory. For me, diving is an escape from a noisy world. When I’m underwater I feel at ease. I’m not worried about deadlines or other external factors in my life. The present moment is the only tangible and meaningful thing. I feel immense gratitude to have the opportunity to explore the vastness of this world. Nature is beautiful and unpredictable, it exists as is, and it does not bend to anyone’s will.

I rented gear for a while before buying secondhand. Last summer I bought my first brand new BC and tank! I still have gear on my list that I could use to make my dive experience more ideal: compass, light, extra neoprene layers, thicker boots, a new mask. In the future I would love to take an advanced class. My life and dive goals include traveling to other countries. I’m almost finished with my undergrad and although I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do after, I refuse to limit myself. This summer my father wants to get in the water again and I would love to help him accomplish that goal. This grant would not go to waste and would be a huge help to both of us. I’m grateful to be connected with this community. Thank you for the opportunity

Essay 4

Bubble, bubble, bubble. Air floats to the surface. I need to dive deep into the water more. I want to see coral reefs. They are pretty and are filled with wildlife. The interesting creatures are crawling and swimming in the deep blue sea. Some of them are hiding in the coral and rocks. I would see sharks and manta rays. I would see lobsters and seahorses and coral and plankton.

Shipwrecks are interesting and cool. I want to go see them. They are boats under the water. They sunk because they were heavy from taking in water. I want to learn about their history and how they were made. Who built them, and why? Is there treasure in them?

I want to challenge myself. I want to swim longer distances and be a better swimmer. I need to learn to control my breathing and check the air flow from the tanks. Diving and swimming are fun and are good for my health.

Having my own gear means I can dive with my mom when I certify in February. I can answer my own questions. I can see everything I want to see. I love scuba diving at scuba rangers. I can’t wait to go in the ocean.

(Webmaster note: Scuba Rangers is a program geared for children ages 8-12)

Essay 5

I have been a lifelong nature lover, and most especially aquatic environments. My first job was when I was 15 working for a now closed Pet Store that used to be in New London. There I quickly became aquarium focused in my career and have spent the past 25 years working in various parts of the aquarium industry and education focused on coral reef health.

I plan on restarting my academic journey this coming winter to focus on a degree and research related to coral and marine environments, building on my previous work in the industry and educational programs I’ve developed and been a part of over my career. One specific focus for me is identifying and locating colonies of our local hard coral, Astrangia star coral, and their distribution in the waters in and around New London County. A particular inspiration was when SECONN divers conducted a clean up of the waters off the pier in New London last summer. I received a call from a NLPD officer that there was copious amounts of encrusting invertebrates on some of the items found, such as a bicycle and lobster traps. I was quite surprised to find several colonies of Astrangia that were quite healthy, which I removed and placed in aquaria was able to keep alive in the systems I was running at the time.

I currently don’t have a full set up diving gear, and don’t foresee having the budget this summer to purchase my own gear. Having this gear would allow me to begin finding and documenting where these coral are located and pass on the information to researchers I communicate with at UCONN and Connecticut colleges. I am continually impressed with the community SECONN has helped create, and hope to become more involved in the future.

Essay 6

I was born and raised with a strong connection to the sea. I come from a long line of ship captains and lobstermen dating back to the late 1600’s in Maine. Growing up I spent my summers at my grandparents’ house a few coves away from the Portland Head Light. I’d swim all day and search for treasures on the beach. I’d help my uncle check his lobster pots and throw back all the creatures that came falling out as he pulled the traps onto the boat.

In high school I took a marine biology class which included a trip to the Bermuda Biological Research Center. We snorkeled everyday and I saw fish and corals and plants that I had never encountered before. It was then that I knew I wanted to learn to scuba dive.

In my early 20’s I took my first scuba training course. Life got busy as I was starting my career as a teacher, and I never completed my open water dives. As an adult the sea continued to be the place I went to relax and recharge. I was never one to lounge in the sun, if I was at the beach I was in the water. When my kids were born we spent a ton of time at various beaches along Long Island Sound.

At the age of 47 I found myself divorced and the single mother of two very energetic kids. Life was feeling hard and exhausting and I knew I needed to do something for myself. I needed to get back my positive energy and zest for life. I needed to get into the ocean. I decided it was
finally time to get my scuba certification. I got my open water certification last June through New England Scuba in Wallingford. Then I spent ten days diving in the Philippines. It was the adventure of a lifetime! So for me, scuba diving is a lifelong dream come true. Diving
challenges me and makes me face fears and new situations which makes me realize my strength. It represents me taking my life back and showing my kids how to really live and enjoy life.

As an educator I share my love of the ocean and diving with my students. I found lots of ways to work it into what I teach. This past year I had two students win 2nd and 3rd place in the Beneath the Sea Ocean Pals National Poster Contest. From what I can tell on their website, these are the first two kids to win from Connecticut. If you attend Beneath the Sea this fall check out the posters and be on the lookout for my winners from Connecticut! Having my own gear would help me learn more to pass onto my students. Having my own gear would allow me to get in the water more often locally. As a plus size woman, it is hard to find a wetsuit that fits properly. Renting a wetsuit is a humiliating experience. It gives me far more anxiety than any other part of diving. Having a wetsuit that fits
properly would give me the confidence to go out and dive with new people. Having my own regulator that I am familiar with would also make me more comfortable and able to grow my diving skills. Getting this grant would mean not having to choose between gear and more dive
training. Thank you for your consideration.

Essay 7

Scuba diving, to some it might be a hobby, or just a way to pass time; but when I go underwater, I find it the ultimate escape from the surface world. Everything stops. The noises of the world fade away the deeper I delve into the water. Discovering beauty in the ocean so unique and untarnished makes me feel alive and brings me solace that I can’t quite feel anywhere else.

I discovered diving about eight years ago and soon after, I slowly started collecting whatever equipment I could get my hands on. Diving’s amazingly rewarding, but it requires a significant upfront investment as well as a dedication to maintaining gear. Unfortunately, my equipment only lets me dive during the warmer seasons. This grant would make it possible for me to purchase a dry suit that would make it possible for me to experience the beauty of the ocean all year round.

I am a husband to an amazing wife and a father to three beautiful kids who are my world. Everything I do in my life is for them. Diving is the one thing that is mine. It’s something for me solely that helps me let go of my worries and I feel a sense of clarity that is unmatched. It is a therapeutic experience that helps me become a better person, husband and father

Essay 8

It started last summer, on a warm day on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. I was 13 and I had been snorkeling before and wondered what it was like to go deeper. Now I was going to. My Father was on a work trip to Pearl Harbor and my mother and I got to go along to enjoy ourselves. This is how I started diving. I may have little experience as I have only been on about six dives, but I enjoy scuba diving and I can’t wait to do more. I am slowly getting gear so I can eventually have all my own gear and go diving without having to rent. Both of my parents scuba dive and so do some family friends of ours. The experience for me isn’t just the amazing sights and what happens in the water, but the memories from the experiences. 

When I first started diving, my instructor said that I immediately knew what I was doing and that I was a natural. I found neutral buoyancy quickly and moved through the water like I had done this before. My instructor laughed with my parents after that I had scared him as he turned around to count the students and didn’t see me at first until he realized that I was always hovering right over him instead of following with everyone else. 

As William Shakespeare said. “Life is too short, so live your life to the fullest..every second of your life just treasure it.” Life is short. If we don’t make lasting memories now and have fun, we might not get to later. I have heard of some pretty cool dives. My mom has told me about her trip to the Caymans and my dad has told me about a sunk U-boat off of North Carolina. The one thing my mother regrets as my older sister gets ready to go to college in a year is that she didn’t travel more with us. My mom wanted to show us the world. My Mother still wants to take us to places like Japan, Thailand, and the Cayman islands. She wants to show us the beauty of the world, not just on the surface, but underneath as well.

When I first went scuba diving in Hawaii, I saw coral, fish, sea turtles, stingray, and eagle ray. My mom said that the conditions paled in comparison to the waters of the Cayman Islands. I thought Hawaii was amazing and want to see what else is out there. If what I thought was amazing was just the beginning, I want to see more, I want to see what is more impressive. I want to see things that once seemed out of my reach. I want to expand my knowledge of this world.

In today’s world nature is disappearing, the environment is under attack, and the underwater environment is also being affected. Coral reefs and sea life is disappearing due to pollution and human disruption. I want to be able to see this and help. I want to see nature and take it all in. Experience it while we still can.

We have a big world. Most of our world is water. Scuba diving gives us the ability to explore this majority of earth in ways like never before. If you award me this grant, I will use it to purchase more of my own gear so I can continue to dive, to explore, and educate myself on the oceans, the reefs, and the sea life that is disappearing all around us.