Published: Jul 1, 2010
Holding the tiny turtle in her hands, Dory Estrada bent down to the
shore. She let go, and the red-bellied cooter paddled away, released
back to the wild after recovering at the National Marine Life Center
near Cape Cod, MA.
“It was really exciting,” said Estrada ’13, a
marine biology major, of the late-May release. “You get a little
attached to the animals so it’s a little sad. At the same time, it’s a
Estrada is one of five interns spending the summer at the National Marine Life Center
a nonprofit organization that helps rescue hundreds of sea turtles,
aquatic organisms and other marine animals like seals stranded yearly in
the Buzzards Bay area due to the shape of the shoreline.
education intern, Estrada helps lead activities in the National Marine
Life Center’s Discovery Center, organizes events like arts and crafts
during Whale Week and teaches children about ocean pollution at
festivals and elementary schools. She also helps clean and maintain the
tanks of the turtles and assists in their daily care.
“It’s interesting, and kids really seem to enjoy when we come out,” said Estrada, who is from Maine.
lifeguarding last summer at a Cape Cod resort, Estrada came across the
National Marine Life Center. Since she is still questioning her career
path, she thought an internship might help give her clarity.
still processing everything and learning as much as I can,” Estrada
said, making plans to talk with the center’s veterinarian. She said she
has been impressed that she’s been able to use her UT biology lessons in
the care of the animals.
“It’s really cool to see the practical application of what I’ve learned in the classroom,” said Estrada, a member of the UT Honors Program
. Dr. Lori McRae
an associate professor of biology, advised Estrada, like all of her
students, to include an internship in her schedule or volunteer to help a
faculty member with research. She said both are important in the field
of biology because they allow the students to network, expose them to
field or lab techniques that make them more competitive in the job
market and help refine their career paths.
“If something really
sparks their interest in a class that they are taking, students should
always talk to their professor about it as there might be opportunities
to volunteer with faculty doing research in these fields,” McRae said,
adding that Honors Tutorials are another way to dig deeper into a field
of interest. “There are several fellowships on campus to fund student
research as well, and some of these experiences lead them to what they
may want to study in graduate school.”
While Estrada is still
figuring out where her path might lead, she knows more than likely it
will include graduate school and might be research-driven. She has some
time, though, before she has to make up her mind, and while she is at
the National Marine Life Center, she said she is just going to soak up
as much as possible.
“I’m sure I’ll still have some ‘aha’ moments,” she said. Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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