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A Hope For The Future - by Taylor MacDonald, Doc Gruber Scholarship recipient

Dr. Gruber was truly a revolutionary, his hard work and dedication are the main reasons the Lab exists today. All fields of science rely upon funding, money that enables research and all aspects down to gear and food. When that funding limitation is thus exasperated by the location of the BBFSF on an island where food must be shipped in and can be uncertain upon its delivery that funding must be further rationed. But Doc was never discouraged by this and managed to provide opportunities for many volunteers and grad students if they were willing to put in the work. With even more restrictions upon the Lab, that funding has become harder to source and thanks support from the McPZ Foundation, the Bimini Shark Lab's Doc Gruber Memorial Scholarship has allowed more people to come to the Lab by covering the expenses required to house and feed them.

[Juvenile Lemon Shark - Photo by Taylor MacDonald]

My family has always done their best to help me financially but times are hard for many people. The extra money just isn’t there, the housing crisis and increasing cost of living has limited most people's ability to save money. Before coming to the Lab I worked full time and often found myself just scraping by after paying rent as well as other bills. On top of normal expenses I must also allocate money for medical prescriptions. The ever increasing costs of insulin as well as all the other products needed to maintain my diabetes meant that I had to source funds to cover those expenses. Most insurance won’t cover multiple months of prescriptions and copays don’t often apply when needing more than your standard amount. These weren’t things that were going to stop me from coming but thanks to the scholarship provided, I was able to be here without incurring much more debt.

[Great Hammerhead - Photo by Taylor MacDonald]

Our lives are never straightforward, everyone has their own battles to fight and journeys to walk. I was part of the running start program attending community college instead of high-school for my junior and senior years. There I gained aspirations for a career in economics, I changed that to ecology shortly after starting my first year at a university but this meant it would take extra time to graduate. Everyone struggles to find their major, or rather the early forms of their purpose. I did a shark cage dive at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium and I knew that I needed to find a way to experience that feeling forever. So I changed my path to pursue that feeling. Covid-19 complicated matters pushing out my graduation even further, but one thing I was always taught was to chase my dreams, so I hunkered down and completed my degree with my main goal to come to the Shark Lab in any capacity. I personally feel that the passion each person has for a career in the natural sciences is unrivaled. The people I have met are unwavering in their commitment to making the world a better place. They are artists, writers, explorers and inventors. I cannot begin to describe to you how important it is that we focus on saving our planet. The Lab is a bastion for conservation, constantly on the forefront of molding the sculptures that are people.

{Taylor takes on boat putting class with intern Emily]

This molding is done directly through education but it is also done indirectly through experience. Our research work, the free diving, and the presence of juvenile lemons. The sunsets and the lapping of the ocean against the shore. Moments that feel like an eternity pass by in the blink of an eye. These moments break and remold your brain, increasing the respect that you hold for those things you fail to grasp. Here in Bimini you constantly feel your breath catch, as you walk through the trees looking for snakes or diving beneath the surface searching for the grand figures that we all chased here. But for me I will dream of those Lemon sharks, I will always see them burned into my eyelids. As the time has run through our fingers I find myself mournful for an epic that I know I will never see the likes of again. 

[Shell beach - Photo by Taylor MacDonald]

Money shouldn’t be a barrier to those who want to foster betterment. Hard work and the willingness to learn any and everything needed to keep things going are traits that are highly desired. The Lab needs dedicated individuals from all walks of life. The identity comes from the community, where our community is diverse beyond measure. I want to pursue the Lab’s founding statements. Research, Education, and Conservation are the outer reaches of adventure in our time. We have to persevere and improve our planet for those that come after us. “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in” a Greek proverb that I often ponder reminds me to let us leave the world better than we found it. I will take the lessons learned here and preach them until my final breaths. The Lab and all its staff have my admiration and I will be eternally grateful for my time here.



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