|Hometown||Guadalajara, Mexico||Resource Specialization||Marine Biology and Shark Conservation|
|Region Specialization||The Americas (Mexico)|
|International Experience(s)||Self-directed Study in Mexico|
"My favourite thing about the GRS program is that it feels like a family of like-minded people working towards the same goal, but everyone has an area of interest that varies form person to person."
Why did you choose the GRS specialization that you did?I've loved the ocean for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my parents would always take my brother and me to the beach during the summer time and everything I found myself swimming alongside magnificent and mysterious creatures, I felt as if I was in another planet. I chose this specialization because I have a very deep passion and respect for sharks. They are vital for the overall health of marine ecosystems and, unfortunately, they are often misrepresented in movies. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed very year either intentionally targeted for their fins, or as by-catch in both legal and illegal fishing operations around the world. I hope to inspire people to start looking as sharks as very valuable resources worth more alive than dead. In the future, I hope to work in an eco-tourism operation in Mexico where people can experience first hand the majesty of these animals.
Where did you travel to for your international experience(s)?For my self-directed studies project I participated in "The Shark Odyssey": a program in La Paz, Mexico that performs research regarding shark conservation and monitoring of populations, and behaviour. The program was divided in three modules: Whale Sharks in La Paz bay, Pelagic Sharks in Cabo San Lucas, and Bull Sharks in Cabo Pulmo National Park.
What did you learn from your international experience(s)?This was truly an incredible experience for me because I was exposed to hands-on learning from an amazing team of marine biologists. I also learned about the importance of involvement from local communities to put pressure on the government when it comes to setting parameters for marine protected areas such as Cabo Pulmo National Park. I learned a lot about shark biology, and current research methodology which created a baseline for the types of courses that I would take at UBC. We were swimming with sharks, mobula rays, sea lions, and an array of fishes. Being exposed to this amount of biodiversity that is available in Mexico made me realize that there needs to be more protection.
What do you like best about the GRS program?My favourite thing about the GRS program is that it feels like a family of like-minded people working towards the same goal, but everyone has an area of interest that varies form person to person. There is a positivity that I think is unparalleled with other programs, and it truly allows you to learn and be inspired by everyone who's there with you sharing their passion.