I attended the University of Dayton for undergrad and earned a B.A. in Public Relations and then proceeded to gain my teaching license. I have always been interested in learning about the ocean and the creatures that live beneath the surface and growing up in Alaska is a huge reason why. From a young age I was exposed to the unique marine environment and the animals that thrive there. I knew I wanted to get involved right after undergrad but I felt held back from pursuing a graduate education in Marine Science because I did not have an official science background. The final push for me to just go for it came when I was volunteering in Naples, Italy at a Marine Protected Area in 2015. It was devastating to see firsthand the lack of knowledge the locals have about the negative impact they are having on the environment. The water is so polluted in Naples that marine life cannot flourish. The MCP program at Stony Brook was exactly what I was looking for: science, communication and policy. After graduation I hope to be able to educate that public, especially kids, about marine life and the conservation issues we face today. It is critical that we all have a sense of urgency to protect our oceans before they are unable to recover. My advice to anyone considering this program is – don’t hold yourself back! If you are passionate about marine conservation and protecting the ocean with a hands-on approach, then go for it. The oceans need you and this is a rapidly developing and important field, so jump in!