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Student Stories

Emily Allen

Emily Allen

SEA Semester Class:

C-241 (Marine Biodiversity & Conservation)


St. John's University


Environmental Science

SEA Semester Research Focus:

Scientific Research - Hydroids
Policy Research - Ecosystem valuation

Why did you choose SEA Semester?

I saw a poster in my science building and it sounded pretty cool and I thought about applying. I went out on a research cruise with Sound Waters, which is on a schooner in the Long Island Sound. It was a great experience. I talked to the captain of the ship, and he told me he was originally a business major, or something equally unrelated to science and the ocean, and that he happened to do a SEA Semester program and he was hooked for life. He encouraged me to apply, so I did.

What was the singular most memorable moment of your SEA Semester experience?

We were sailing towards Bermuda, and were expected to have it in sight by morning. I was on bow watch, and as the sun started to rise, the clouds on the horizon were backlit and began to form the strangest shapes. There was a giant island, with monsters and people and trees. It was very Seuss-esque, and I couldn’t stop watching it change as the clouds slowly moved and the sun rose. When my relief came to take over bow watch, I asked her if I could stay out there. She looked at me like I was crazy, shrugged and walked away. When she came back an hour later, I was still transfixed by the clouds, and I stayed on bow watch until it was light enough where we no longer needed a lookout posted. It was incredible!

What were the strongest aspects of SEA Semester?

It is such a unique experience! No one else I know has done anything even remotely close to this. I made great friends. I set myself apart from other students by doing very interesting and unique research that I am sure grad schools will take notice of. I sailed a tall ship alone at night, hundreds of miles from shore, by the light of the moon. I climbed to the top of the rigging in the middle of the ocean. I helped prepare dinner for 30 people on rolling seas. It was such a memorable and unique experience that can be found nowhere else.

What were the most challenging aspects of SEA Semester?

There was so much work - class work, project work, systems chase, research - being thrown at us, in addition to standing watch, that there hardly seemed like enough time in the day. Somehow we got it all done, but it is a very exhausting program.

Words of advice for future SEA Semester students?

Get a lot of sleep beforehand! You will be exhausted and you will be stressed and you will be seasick but you will get thought it! Don’t be afraid to get frustrated and never be afraid to ask for help. It’s okay to break down once in a while and cry a little bit if things get too tough. Take a deep breath, go look out at the ocean, and then try again.