Amanda CottonMarine Biology Student at UNE
University of New EnglandBiddeford, ME
I knew I wanted to be a marine biologist since about seventh grade. In the summer before my junior year of high school, I had the opportunity to go to Sarasota, Fla. for two weeks to study dolphins on a research vessel at Mote Marine Lab. I learned so many skills that the average high school student never has a chance to experience. This trip made me decide that I definitely wanted to go to school for marine biology no matter what. As a senior in high school I volunteered at the Niagara Falls Aquarium, the closest thing to the ocean within driving distance of my house, and had to have hands-on experience with fish, penguins, seals, sea lions, and many other organisms.
I chose the University of New England because I felt that it had the most to offer in the field of marine biology. The Marine Science Center really swayed my decision to attend this university. I also liked the general atmosphere of the campus. It is small, but not too small. The classes are the perfect size so you don’t feel like a number, but can actually develop relationships with your professors. I also like the number and the variety of extracurricular activities available to students so that no matter what you are interested in you can get involved.
What do you like about UNE and your major department?
I have had many one of a kind experiences at UNE for both of my majors and in extracurricular activities. For marine biology, the Marine Science Center allows students to have hands-on experience right from the beginning of freshman year. As a freshman, I was able to volunteer at the Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center (MARC) in both animal care and education. As a sophomore, I became the treasurer in MARC education and this has allowed me to get even more involved in my field.
These experiences are priceless and have really given me a head start in preparing for my future beyond UNE. As an environmental major, the Green Learning Community really aided me in adjusting to my first year in college. Linking four of my classes together made it very easy to relate what I was learning to my major and made learning about the environment interesting. As a sophomore, having a class on the 369 acres of undeveloped land has allowed me to appreciate nature in a new way and get hands-on experience in the field through one of my classes.
Extracurricular activities on campus have also been vital to my college experience. I am a member of Greening UNE, which is a student-run committee that tackles environmental concerns on campus. This group allows me to take action and put what I learn in class about protecting the environment into practice. I am also the Clubs and Organizations Representative and a Floor Representative on Hall Council. Through this group I have learned how to become a better leader and I have the opportunity to better the lives of resident students at UNE through programming and hall and campus improvements.
What internships, clinicals or class projects have been most important to your development?
As a freshman, I worked with a fellow student to prepare a program on recycling to present to fifth graders at a local elementary school for our Green Learning Community year-long final project. We worked with the recycling coordinator of Saco, Maine, in order to create a suitable curriculum that was still effective in educating the students. We had to incorporate each of the four GLC classes into the project and give a thorough presentation to our class at the end of the year. Although this project was a little overwhelming at first, it provided us with skills that most students don’t obtain until senior year of college.
What are your future plans?
I am hoping to study abroad in Queensland, Australia next fall in the SIT field studies program where I will get hands-on experience in both the environmental and marine fields. I will graduate a semester early with a double major and hopefully spend spring 2009 doing an environmental internship at either Walt Disney World or in Africa. In fall 2009, I wish to attend graduate school at Duke University for a MEM degree in either Coastal Environmental Management or Conservation Science and Policy. From there I want to get a good job that I love in either environmental education or environmental/coastal policy that I love and eventually have a family.
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