Igniting the Spark
Growing up, I was called the ‘animal girl’. I was the first to volunteer to feed the class pet or bring a new pet home. My playground was the creek and the meadow behind my house, which housed turtles, snakes, mice and rabbits. You could describe my younger self as muddy, bruised, smiling, and fearless. A lot of my desire to observe and learn about animals comes from the great Steve Irwin and his inspiring point of view on the fantastic animal kingdom. I watched his program everyday on Animal Planet. I wanted to be just like him when I grew up.
Finding myself – or so I thought
When I entered high school I felt I had to choose what to do with my life. I still had the desire to be like Steve Irwin; I wanted to inspire others much like he inspired me. I researched and even shadowed different careers that I might be interested in. I volunteered at animal rescues and worked side-by-side with a veterinarian for a week. However, I felt like these careers did not offer me quite what I was looking for. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to participate with People2People and travel to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji that I finally found what I was looking for. During my time there, I went scuba diving and fell in love with the underwater world. I instantly knew that this was something I could do for the rest of my life. I decided to study marine biology and pursue a career in research. I wanted to be like Steve Irwin and help animals who were being negatively affected by human influence.
A change of mind
After high school, I still had the passion for marine biology and had decided to attend Texas A&M in Galveston to earn my degree. However, I knew I couldn’t afford to go straight to a university. In order to save money, I decided to attend community college. At first I was a little disappointed, but soon realized the great opportunities offered by community colleges that were not available at a four-year university. I joined organizations on campus, made friends, and soon began to love my new home in Texas. At the same time, I found myself unsure of my future. I began questioning my choices. Was marine biology right for me? I was really at a loss and soon it felt like my life was spiraling downwards. My grades fell, and my motivation left me. I had lost my spark.
Finding myself- for real this time
After some time, I began to grow in heart and mind. I began to gain my sense of self back. I realized I am still the animal girl I have always been. I still want to work with animals all my life. That hasn’t changed. I could still be like Steve Irwin. He was not just the animal lover we saw on TV. He also devoted much of his life to the well-being of animals native to Australia. His efforts in land conservation and the protection of animal life was a big part of what he did for the animals he loved. Steve Irwin continues to inspire me as I begin to pursue a major in environmental science and dedicate my life to the conservation of wildlife.
Now I am a confident student studying environmental science, but, as you can see, my college career didn’t begin that way. I was unsure and uncertain at times even though I knew I wanted to help animals since the days playing near the creek. I encourage all students to explore as many opportunities as they can in college, to ignite that spark that will lead to their future career success.