Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
I am a citizen of another world. This land is not one everyone ventures into, and even fewer make a home within it. It is a world with mystery and magic, unimaginable creatures and portals that lead to the stuff of dreams. Some call us divers, others just call us crazy, but I prefer the term coined by the journalist and fellow adventurer David Helvarg; Seaweed Rebels.
“Seaweed Rebels” refers to the breed that decides to shed the limitations of land and venture into the cool, blue depths of the Earth. Inhibitions are yielded to the tides as soon as I begin to sink beneath the waves lapping at the top of my head. For a Seaweed Rebel, it is rarely the conditions that make it a perfect dive. Even the days when the rain is unyielding, the storm clouds unwavering, and the waves relentless, the moment you sink beneath the tumbling water the real world is gone. The angst, the babel, the normality. All the flaws of the surface are lost once you begin your descent. When I am diving I reach a point of perfect, uninterrupted happiness. Freed from the anxieties of the surface, I am no longer the nail-biting, klutzy kid I normally am. The stress of the real world has no presence here. The trivial nonsense of the day to day means nothing. It’s only me, the sounds of my breathing, and the dance of bubbles up my mask as I descend into the world in which I know I am only a guest.
When I surface, everything rushes back. The devastatingly harsh reality that this world that is filled with pure, unadulterated beauty is dying. I am terrified that the rest of the world will never lose sight of the shore, never dare to creep beyond the confines of land and see the world that they can help save. My love for the world below has stirred up an unyielding desire in me to protect it. In 2016 I decided to help found a nonprofit called Generation Ocean along with the dedicated work of three other students in Denver, Colorado. I don’t like to do anything slowly, and patience is a virtue I only possess thirty feet below the surface. This is why after getting certified, I could no longer sit idly by and watch the mass genocide of the world I love as little more than a tourist. That is simply not the Seaweed Rebel way.
Our mission as Generation Ocean is to advocate for a world that not everyone sees, understands, or can relate to. The organization stemmed from the decision to go on a research trip to Cuba, with a group of strangers, at 16, with six dives under my belt. On the shores of the Isle of Youth, I realized how little even the people who spent every day on the water knew, understood, and cared about their impact on the ocean. The weeks spent diving, learning, and developing my passion for the ocean changed me.
Upon my return, I threw myself into learning, understanding, and absorbing everything I could about the underwater world. I watched Ted Talks on climate change, read books about exploration and the world around us, Skyped Marine Biologists, met the original Seaweed Rebel herself; Sylvia Earle, took an online course on Marine biology (in addition to my regular class work), gave presentations, fundraised for Generation Ocean, and returned to Cuba the very next year to delve even deeper. My experience in creating Generation Ocean has shown me the importance of remaining open-minded, my capacity for change, and how my passion has revealed my own fervor for rising above fears and limitations.