Extensions of Ourselves

Published by Toni Nicole Ramos, History Science Intern at the Padre Island National Seashore Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery

Sixteen hours before my final interview for the History Science position at the Padre Island National Seashore, my twelve-year-old dog, Nugget, died. Like many people, my dog was a grand part of my childhood, it was as if my childhood had also died. The evening before my interview was painful, nonstop crying and stressing how I could possibly focus on this opportunity. My dad had to sternly remind me as painful as this situation was, life moves on and I cannot allow my life to move on without me.

The morning of my interview, I struggled to compose myself and minutes before the interview I was still softly sobbing. Soon enough, Cynthia Rubio appeared on my monitor and our interview commenced. During the interview, my emotions translated into more passionate and my remorse and grief faded into merely background noise. As we continued to talk about the internship, we delved deeper into the importance of facing adversity and arising from it. In the realms of science, our greatest challenges often contort within us. It was as if my dog’s death was a premonition that all the success and glory we desire is not without sacrifice and intense dedication. My grievances and distress for my childhood had deciphered into a prophecy I was determined to fill for myself. My dreams of working within the National Parks Service and producing relevant research would be fulfilled, heartache or not I would fill my own cup.

Toni Ramos kneels to monitor for hatchlings as they make their way towards the open water.
Toni Ramos places "targets" on the beach for drone data with the Texas A&M University of Corpus Christi Water and Environmental Systems Analysis Lab (WESA)

During my research, I often felt most invigorated after realizing the flaw in my plan or recognizing a challenge that could deter my outcomes. There was joy in my failures and excitement in the overwhelming science that unraveled before me. As if I naively pulled on a loose thread, it would all disentangle. A heaping pile of unfamiliar jargon, aspects of geology I never knew and more sea turtle knowledge I could have fathomed to encompass. Many moments were discouraging, and it was instilled by an irritable self-doubt that I could not execute what I came to contribute. This was my biggest obstacle and my greatest motivation. My opportunity to learn arose from being novice. Whether it was incorporating Digital Elevation Models (DEM) from drone data, anatomy from the necropsies or introducing myself to senior professionals. The greatest aspects of this internship were the ceaseless opportunities to learn and to experience- a day of learning was a day fulfilled.

I recognized for every shortcoming was a prospect to learn. It was surreal to be the least smart person in the room, a privilege that I was grateful to take advantage of. To inquire and to grow has been my biggest area of development. My internship has been a culmination of self-doubt, passion and undoubtedly perseverance.

In many ways, my emotions were a root motivator for myself in this internship. I had to embody passion and devotion to create an impactful research. My experiences were instilled by my steadfast desire to learn more and experience all realms of what the Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery offers. 


1 Comment
  • Misbah F.
    Posted at 14:20h, 11 July


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