For the student who wants more than a degree from their education, Rutgers University is the place to be. Simple asking professors landed me many opportunities throughout my undergraduate career, and I credit this with getting me accepted into a fully funded PhD program recently. I majored in both marine science and ecology and minored in environmental policy; this background combined with the field experiences I received during my time at Rutgers prepared me for an interdisciplinary PhD program where I will be investigating coral reef ecosystems and their interactions with terrestrial systems.

During my first year as an undergraduate at Rutgers, I stepped into the glider laboratory and asked a graduate student if they needed help. Gliders are robots that cross oceans autonomously to gather valuable oceanographic data. The faculty and graduate students in that laboratory taught me how a glider is put together, and demonstrated the coding involved in operating them. This opportunity working with gliders networked me into a project tagging fish in the Raritan River. During this time, I also became a student mentor in the Topics of Marine Systems course. Excitingly, my involvement in these projects later helped me land an exciting opportunity in the Antarctic to work on the Palmer Station LTER project, working with Dr. Oscar Schofield’s phytoplankton research group.

But Rutgers also helped me in indirect ways. The networking and connections I made through Rutgers projects after returning from Antarctica then allowed me to assist with multiple bird banding projects, including an owl banding project in NJ. Involvement with this group allowed me to later travel to Mexico and Costa Rica to assist with avian research projects in Central America.

When Rutgers states that is has “Jersey Roots, Global Reach,” my experience as an undergraduate there is evidence of that. There are many places in the world I would have never seen had it not been for the opportunities that an education at Rutgers provides. If I wanted to simply get a degree and finish school, I could have done that; however, I was not content with simply getting my degree and wanted more out of my education. My education at Rutgers allowed me to get just that.