It is a warm summer day in San Diego, California. As the sun shines on my face, a light breeze passes, carrying the wonderful aroma of the ocean. I sense all of this as I suit up for my final dive needed for my scuba certification. Splash! Feel the cold water enter my wet suit as I jump in. All ready to go, I begin to descend.
To become a certified scuba diver, there are multiple tasks that need to be demonstrated correctly before a dive master. One of these tasks includes removing and clearing the breathing mouthpiece. This is the one task I shall never forget how to do.
We descended 30 feet to the sandy sea floor. There, our dive master had each of us demonstrate removing and clearing the mouthpiece. When it came to me, I was able to remove the mouthpiece fine, but clearing was not as easy. Once I had the mouthpiece in my mouth, I took a deep breath, and instead of air, I inhaled a mouthful of water! I tried to clear the mouthpiece once more, and took in a second swig of water. At this point, it is either a lifesaving gasp of air or life ending gulp of water. My dive master comes to me and clears the mouthpiece for me. I take one more breath, and thankfully, it is air.
At this point, I am done with the dive. I can feel my mask tighten around my face as tears begin to well up inside and all I want to do is to ascend to the surface—until I saw it.
About three feet away, I see a giant black baby sea bass! With eyes the size of golf balls, I make eye contact with the fish and then it immediately swims away.
After this, I had a decision to make. One, stop diving. It is seriously dangerous and could lead to more life threatening situations. Or two, continue diving. The black sea bass is only the beginning.
Today I am a certified open water, advanced, and rescue scuba diver! I have been diving all over the world including Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Spain, and Turkey. What I enjoy most is that diving gives me the ability to enter a world which I would not be able to otherwise. Diving has led to my decision to be an environmental engineer.
When deciding what to major in, I knew I wanted to stay connected with the ocean. I considered marine biology but found that to be too narrow and decided to go broader, environmental science! When I came to RPI, I was originally a sustainability studies major, and shortly after starting school found out it is in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. After talking to multiple faculty members and business professionals, I decided to switch to environmental engineering to learn more with problem solving and science. After finals, I will become a junior, and after I graduate, I hope to do water remediation or be involved with water somehow. Perhaps I could do a costal restoration and be reunited with my dear friend, the ocean.