Marine science major Kira Demitrus found that being surrounded by like-minded students inspired her to explore her interest in marine science. And at a large research university like South Carolina, she could explore it as far – and as deep – as she wanted.
Gaining a solid foundation in her marine science labs, Kira immediately went to work conducting research on phytoplankton community structures her freshman year. The next year, she researched natal honing in hawksbill sea turtles.
"I started scuba diving when I was ten. I remember seeing a six-foot-long nurse shark staring back at me on one of my first dives. From that point, I was completely hooked."
Kira used her research experience to take advantage of an opportunity to study sharks at Universidad San Francisco de Quito on the Galapagos Islands.
"Studying in the Galapagos Islands was the best four months of my life. We were outside all the time, and all of my courses had a scuba-diving component. I worked with top-notch professors, one of whom I just saw on Shark Week."
Kira also become a divemaster, conducted an extensive analysis of sea lion behavior and spent hours surrounded by waters flush with what she wants to continue to study — sharks.
"This whole experience made me grow as a researcher and person. I know I'm a marine scientist, and I know I have what it takes."
Kira's next steps are to apply to graduate school where she plans to further explore shark migratory behavior — in the states or abroad.
I am South Carolina.