Free response/Open question
Two communists and a fascist sit on my desk. Every morning they greet me, staring with gigantic, famished eyes from behind their acrylic wall. “Here you go, boys” I chime merrily as I give them the day’s rations. On a whim a few months ago I drove down to the local pet store and bought three Bloodfin Tetras from a lady whose idea of a good fishnet was her clenched fist. After an initial scare, when one of my new fishy friends was practically turned into salmon mousse before being released from said fist, I pranced out of the store with a bag in my hand and a happy feeling in my heart. Now every morning Joe Stalin, Benito Mussolini, and Mao Zedong greet me, having been so christened by the tank’s water.Far from being a mere spur-of-the-moment decision, my little dictator desk buddies represent a personal interest that makes me unique. I became interested in marine biology when I read Shark Lady, the biography of ichthyologist Eugenie Clark who studied shark behavior around the world. On my sixteenth birthday, when most of my friends were asking for cars, I asked for SCUBA diving lessons. Now, with a fresh certification card tucked into my dive log, I could walk with the fish just like Eugenie.For three summers I attended the SeaCamp Marine Biology Program in both San Diego and Oahu, Hawaii. In addition to taking copious amounts of notes, I also SCUBA dove, ran experiments, participated in labs, conducted field research and listened to talks by many noted ichthyologists, geologists, mammologists, and zoologists. One of these speakers was Jennifer Metz, a marine biologist whose work with the Peace Corps helped save miles of coral reef in the Philippines. By educating the local villagers and engineering alternate income and lifestyle projects, Jennifer was able to help both the people and the environment. I have a long and fruitful history with community service: I organize youth camps, collect food for the hungry, work as an aquarium volunteer, and teach disabled kids how to ride horses for physical therapy. Hearing Jennifer’s story made me hope that someday I too can use both my knowledge of the ocean and my love for helping others to help both thrive and prosper in coexistence. The fish on my desk are just a shard of the expanse of the ocean that I take so much interest in. There is so much more to be discovered in its labyrinthine depths, and I, as a scientist, will do just that. It is this fascination that makes me unique. I hope that someday I will be as great a marine biologist as Eugenie, and, like Jennifer, use my love of the ocean to benefit both the sea and the people who depend on it.