Finding My Passion

Isabella Mcdonald

I had been in college for a year and a half and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I always told people I wanted to major in English, but I had never officially declared or pursued it. It wasn't until one night, when I had gotten lost in Netflix, that I discovered a documentary that changed my life. It's titled “Plastic Paradise,” and I highly recommend it. I learned that there is an island in between America and Japan where millions upon millions of pieces of trash are washing up annually, and the majority of that garbage is plastic because plastic never fully breaks down. This is starting to become a really big threat to sea creatures. After watching it, I realized that I loved learning about the ocean, specifically the Pacific Ocean, and I was inspired to make a change in the world. The next morning, I found myself googling internships in Southern California that would help me pursue my passion.

About a month or two after applying to be an Informal Educator at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, for their Summer Learning Adventure kids camp. I received my acceptance, and after that I had to wait some more. Finally, June rolled around, and I was getting ready to leave. I had so many emotions pulsing through my body. Terribly nervous, yet incredibly excited, and everything in between. I was getting ready to leave my house, my family, and move away from Utah for the first time. Maybe I shouldn't say move; I was only going to be gone for four months, but it was still something I had never done before. There were times I tried to explore every excuse possible to back out. On the morning of June 5th, I packed up my car with a heavy heart and started out on my adventure. I'll forever be grateful for my father not letting me back out. I wasn't sure what to expect: I've always loved the ocean, but was I sure that I wanted to do this? I had begun telling people I was an aspiring marine biologist, but was I really? Did I really want to do that?

The day that my decision to pursue marine biology was solidified, was during training week. Imagine that—I was only three days into my adventure, and I had already discovered that I was exactly where I needed to be. All of my anxiety and feelings of wanting to back out were replaced with excitement and passion. It was a Wednesday, and we were at La Jolla Cove getting suited up to go snorkeling. I had been to La Jolla Cove many times to watch the sea lions laying out on the rocks, but I had never watched the creatures below the surface.

Within five minutes of being in the water, snorkeling had become my favorite hobby. It's an entirely different world under the water, and I loved getting lost in it. There are so many different creatures to examine: sea lions, seals, lobsters, shrimp, and a large variety of species of fish. It's amazing, and so peaceful watching them all exhibit different behaviors. It hit me when I was exiting the water that this is what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be below the surface, I wanted to study the different behaviors of marine species and I wanted to study ways to protect them and conserve our world's oceans.

The entire internship as a whole really helped me discover who I am as a person. My soul is different now. I discovered my passion and what I want to do in life. The ocean and its ecosystems are so incredibly important to our world. There are many reasons why they are important to our lives but here are two main examples: oceans absorb the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, and they also produce half of the oxygen in every breath we take. I want to spread that message to everyone I encounter.


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