Please help me get to South Africa!

Hello, my name is Nicole Marando and I am a junior at the University of New England in Maine, studying animal behavior. I am studying animal behavior because I have always been a lover of animals. I knew that I wanted to work with animals from a very young age and since then I have never wanted to do anything else. My university has given me a very unique education, one that I am convinced would be rare to find somewhere else. I am blessed to be able to work with some of the leading scientists and behaviorists in the country and in the field. Due to these men and women, my career path has taken a turn for the better. I came to school extremely narrow minded...I wanted to train dolphins and whales and that was it. I didn't want to do anything else, but thanks to my professors I have learned that captivity is not where these amazing creatures belong and that there are millions of other species out there besides dolphins and whales that I have come to know and love.

That brings me here...UNE requires that I have a minimum of 6 internship credits to graduate. Internships are normally fulfilled between the junior and senior year. I was encouraged by my professors to go out and seek an internship that would give me a once in a life time learning experience, so I did just that. I was 1 of 12 students accepted to the Great White Shark Program at Oceans Research in South Africa for this coming August.

Any one who knows me well enough knows that JAWS is my favorite movie...Sharks sparked my interest at a young age. Even though I wanted to work with dolphins and whales, sharks and other fish were always on my radar because I was a lover of all things marine. Every summer as Shark Week airs on the discovery channel, I sit in front of the TV drooling over the amazing power and beauty that sharks possess. We learn to fear what we don't understand and sharks are one of the most misunderstood species in the animal kingdom. This internship allows me to get up close and personal with these majestic and fierce animals to understand them better and aid in their survivorship. Over the years our oceans have been undergoing drastic changes and have been the site of hideous crimes such as whale hunts, dolphin trades, shark finning, over fishing and mass pollution. It has always been a dream of mine to get on a boat, sail the seas and do my part in preserving and helping the oceans and all things that live there. This is the start to that dream...but I need help making it a reality.

I am not asking for a specific amount, no donation is too small. All that I ask is that you help me get to South Africa so that I can start on my journey to saving our oceans. Thank you for reading my story. I appreciate anything you can donate to help me. Thank you!

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Nicole Marando 
Biddeford, ME