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Student Stories

Tyler J. Hoecker

Tyler J. Hoecker

SEA Semester Class:

S-226 (Oceans & Climate)


Willamette University


Environmental Science

SEA Semester Research Focus:

Scientific Research - Seabirds and Trophic Relationships at Frontal Boundaries

Why did you choose SEA Semester?

I decided to spend a semester with SEA because I wanted to be able to do research of my own design, visit some really cool places, and learn about tall ship sailing. Mostly I wanted an experience where I could spend my time outside, but still progress academically. Similar programs I looked at didn’t seem to achieve that balance as well as SEA Semester.

What were the strongest aspects of SEA Semester?

For me, I was surprised at how important the shore component was. I came to SEA Semester to be on the ocean of course, but what I discovered was that developing healthy relationships with my shipmates and colleagues beforehand was not only crucial but also a ton of fun. The sea component was also amazing; we visited Palmyra Atoll and saw the most incredible underwater community I’ve ever seen. We also conducted some truly interesting research under the guidance of our scientists.

What were the most challenging aspects of SEA Semester?

Things haven’t changed much since kindergarten: patience, cooperation and communication were the most difficult skills for me to master. You have to remember that when you’re on the boat, you can’t be anywhere else. That means that if you or somebody else is not feelin’ it, that has to be recognized and respected without neglecting the tasks that keep us going.

Words of advice for future SEA Semester students?

Enjoy the shore component and make friends with your class from day one. Choose a project you’re really interested in, you’ll be spending a lot of time together. Don’t get stressed on the boat; between crazy schedules, dynamics with your shipmates, and project work there are opportunities to become overwhelmed. Remember that this is supposed to be different, you’re supposed to have fun while you learn, and small things are not worth ruining any of your time at sea.