The Eugenie Clark fellowship was a very special opportunity for me. Prior to this fellowship, despite having some field work experience, I had never felt I was part of the science community. I felt I had so many gaps in my knowledge and to be a part of shark science, I needed to be more prepared and experienced. It felt out of reach. Therefore, handling and working with sharks was always something that I wanted to be a part of, but couldn’t. I just didn’t know how I could get there. Having access to so many resources, advice and guidance from our mentors, and exposure to a variety of scientists and like-minded people that by the end, not only did I realize that to be part of science was easier than I had imagined but that I already was there.
What I loved about this fellowship was that it armed us with an insane amount of skills. I knew it would be very hands-on, but I couldn’t have imagined the various types of fieldwork and experiences we would be doing and the different types of species we would be handling and learning from. This left me feeling more confident in what I wanted to do and what I could do.
I will always be grateful for the knowledge and skills I gained from being a part of this opportunity. With that said, what I feel I will hold closer to me, are the special connections and people I met and made friends with along the way. I know it sounds cliché and kind of corny, but I think at the end of the day it’s the people around us that impact us the most. Yes, it was super cool to handle a shark, take muscle biopsies, fins clips, to measuring little fish and spotted eagle rays, taking photo ID’s of bottlenose dolphins, but that isn’t going to be my initial memory of the fellowship years from now. What will stay embedded in me are the amazing conversations I had with the other fellows at Ben & Jerry’s, the laughs I had with the best roommate ever at the JMIH conference, or facing the fact that I might like kids more than I thought I did. This is what made being part of fellowship so special to me.
Being a Eugenie Clark fellow solidified my love for sharks, my love of working with sharks, my love in shark science and ignited within me a new love for science communication. I finally feel that I am part of this world and have amazing friends and mentors I can count on. I can confidently say that this fellowship changed my life.
MISS provides a community and funded opportunities for gender minorities of color who wish to enter the field of shark sciences. We aim to show that there are many gender minorities of color succeeding in and interested in this field.
We fundraise and apply for grants to create paid opportunities to attempt to knock down the financial barrier into shark sciences. We encourage other organizations in our field to do the same.
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