"Nature is pretty much the top passion of my life. That's
something from childhood: I've always been outdoors. I've
always loved seeing the intricacies of the environment. I
used to think I wanted to be an entomologist; I was always
catching bugs. So Biology seemed a natural choice."Beyond
that, though, "narrowing it down was pretty difficult.
I switched back and forth a lot between areas of biology – genetics,ecology, etc."
To help make that decision, Rebekah tried out several fields.
"I did a summer REU [Research Experience for Undergraduate]
program here under Dr. Darrell Vodopich. I was doing research
on Damsel Flies and their fecundity. I went out and made routine
field collections at the Lake Waco Wetlands, went back to the
lab and processed data, counted eggs – which was kind of tedious! – and at the end I put together a report and gave a presentation to a group of professors here. It was a paid position, so that was nice." After that, "I helped a couple of grad students with their field work. I was catching rats and mice and bats. Apparently catching things is a lifelong trend for me!" These experiences helped Rebekah understand what real field research would entail in the life sciences.
"I eventually decided that what I want to do is some sort of marine biology. I find the ocean so fascinating – it's so different from anything we see on land. The school I would like to go to is Bangor University in Wales. They have a one-year Masters program for Marine Environmental Protection. That's my primary goal right now." An interest in school abroad isn't anything new for Rebekah. "I studied Japanese at Baylor, so I've been pretty involved with that; I actually studied abroad during my sophomore year in southern Fukuoka. I took classes in Japanese language, culture, and religion. It was incredible."
Though she's set on her field and graduate program, Rebekah hasn't quite made up her mind about what sort of job she'd like in the end. "I'm thinking about consulting or research – maybe something to do with lawmaking and enforcement. I'm really not sure yet!" Whatever she ends up doing, Rebekah feels prepared. "With all the research opportunity that I got, I feel much better prepared to do that sort of thing in the future."