Graduates from Boise State University end up in all parts of the world doing all kinds of things. Take Phoebe Wallace, for example, whose job it is to swim with sea turtles and go whale watching. After graduating in May 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, she landed a job at Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF) in Maui, Hawaii.
Phoebe is on a team of marine naturalists responsible for everything from free diving with dolphins to giving presentations about coral. She and her colleagues take turns leading reef tours, snorkeling in the sun pointing out fish. She said, “The most important thing we do is education … we try to inspire people to join us in the ocean conservation movement by teaching them how to responsibly enjoy wildlife in its natural habitat.”
Phoebe discovered her love for biology in high school watching David Attenborough wildlife specials fascinated by “the diversity and complexity of life.” She knew she wanted a job someday that would allow her to be outdoors. After enrolling at Boise State, she went straight to the Study Abroad office.
“I originally wanted to go to Australia or New Zealand,” she said,” but they helped me find a program that was not only the most affordable, but also the only one where I could get upper division biology credits, so I didn’t get behind in my degree.” For six months during her third year, Phoebe went to Costa Rica and said it was the “best decision ever.” While living with a host family, she took biology classes in English, a Latin American culture class, and learned Spanish. On weekends, she volunteered to protect nesting sea turtles.
Immediately after graduation, Phoebe returned to Costa Rica to work as a research assistant at a wildlife refuge in a jungle with no electricity or roads. She patrolled the beach at night for turtles, was stung by a five-inch scorpion, and watched a boa constrictor eat an iguana. She said, “You can’t truly appreciate the jungle without realizing it is a force to be reckoned with.” She also remembers quite vividly releasing hundreds of baby turtles into a sea glowing with blue-green bioluminescence.
Phoebe’s advice for students—“Study abroad first and foremost, or if that’s not possible, look into traveling and volunteering and stick with it. I spent a lot of my time in college unsure if it would ever pay off, and watched people dropping out to travel and they seemed to be enjoying life much more than me, but I am so glad I stuck to my goal and finished school, it was so worth it.”
Explore the opportunities to study abroad at the office of International Learning Opportunities, located in the Simplot/Micron Building.
by Sandy Friedly