I was about 4 years old when I told my parents I wanted to "save the sharks." One day we were all gathered in the living room watching Shark Week, this particular episode had to do with endangerment. At a young age I wasn't aware of the cruelty the world had against such amazing animals. It broke my heart as I watched a shark be finned alive on the screen in front of me. The footage had been taken to show people that sharks are not the predator, but that they have been the prey for hundreds of years. In that moment, something sparked inside of me. I could not stand by knowing that about 100 million are slaughtered every year and more and more species are being pushed to endangerment.
I hoped that if I got the chance to teach people about shark finning, it could change their attitude towards sharks. All through elementary, middle, and high school, I took every opportunity I had to create posters and presentations about sharks. (The image below is a poster my group made for a project at Sea Camp this past year.)
I enjoy speaking to people about these topics because as they listen, you can see the sympathy they develop in their eyes. A change of heart can make a difference and all it takes is passion for something you love.
As I journeyed through high school, math and science became more challenging and I almost gave up on my dream of pursuing Marine Biology. I felt that I could not achieve my goal since math tends to be my weakest subject. Towards the end of my senior year, the motivation I needed was waiting for me on the counter. I opened it up to find an acceptance letter from Texas A&M Corpus Christi, the university I've dreamt about attending since I was young. I knew then that I couldn't give up, no matter how difficult my studies were. As a reminder to always pursue my dream, I got my second tattoo, a shark (pictured in the slideshow below). Every time I see it, I'm taken back to that episode of shark week and I remember why I chose Marine Biology.
I encourage everyone to pursue their dreams, no matter how big or small. For me, sharks have changed my life and have opened my eyes to the abundant opportunities I have ahead of me. I look forward to what I have waiting around the corner and hopefully someday I can fulfill my 4 year old selfs dream and "save the sharks."