Describe UMass Dartmouth in one word.
When did you know UMassD was the right choice for you?
When I met my roommate, Kaylee Chamberlin, my freshman year, who became my best friend. We were both science majors (Medical Laboratory Science) and supported each other throughout our time here.
What drew you to your major?
I have always loved plants and animals. I knew I wanted to learn more about the interactions between animals and their environment and I got to do that here at UMassD. The biology faculty at UMassD are great and welcome you into part of the community in the department.
What was your favorite class at UMassD?
My favorite classes have been Biology of Invertebrates with Dr. O’Connor and Animal Physiology with Dr. Bernal. I have taken a few classes with both professors and have learned a lot from them. They are passionate about what they do and have a love for teaching. I also worked with Dr. Bromage for my first few years here and he helped guide me through my time here. I was able to learn a lot from working with the graduate students in his lab.
When and where did you study abroad?
I studied abroad in the Galápagos January 2022 for the winter term. I had wanted to do this since I was a sophomore but Covid-19 put a hold on all study abroad programs. When it opened back up my senior year, I knew it was now or never. The Galápagos is truly a biology major's dream; the unique biodiversity is like nowhere else on earth. There were sea lions everywhere and if you weren’t paying attention on the beach, they might fall asleep on your towel! I snorkeled with sharks, turtles, and tons of tropical fish. It didn’t even feel real at some points.
What did you do while there?
I got to go on excursions and learning opportunities most tourists don’t get to do since I was there for academics. We went to a recycling plant and learned how the island deals with the trash, recycling, and compost. They care so much about their island and work hard to preserve its beauty. We went hiking or snorkeling every day. Experienced tour guides that knew everything about the islands led us around each day. I learned so much in such a short amount of time.
I got to stay with a local family and experience being part of the community. We learned about how locals are affected positively and negatively by tourism. The program emphasized the importance of supporting the local economy, and most things we did were through the locals. The American Institute of Foreign Study (AIFS) is a great program to go through and they helped with every step of the way. We had a lot of extra hurdles because of Covid, and they were very accommodating and made us feel comfortable in a foreign country. I took my classes through University of San Francisco-Quito (USFQ) while there, and they also amazing at accommodating us during a crazy time.
Do you have plans to return to the Galápagos?
I plan on going back to San Cristobal (the main island I was on) and hopefully visit some of the other islands in the Galápagos. It was the most amazing, ethereal place and I am so fortunate I got a chance to experience one of the most beautiful places on earth.
I plan on working as a city gardener for Potted UP in Boston. I have always loved gardening and being outside so I am excited for this new opportunity.
You may connect with Kayle on her LinkedIn. To read about other graduating Corsairs' stories, visit umassd.edu/commencement/spotlights. For all things Commencement, visit umassd.edu/commencement.