“I want to make the ocean a better place. That’s what’s driven me since 5th grade. No matter what I’m going through now, I’ve always thought, ‘I have to become a marine biologist.’ We haven’t taken responsibility for all the bad stuff we’ve been doing to the ocean, so I want to. I’ve never actually been to the ocean. There’s not a whole lot you can do without going away, and I just don’t have money for that. I went to Sea World once and got to experience the ocean as much as you can from an amusement park. Then, I went on a whale watching trip in the Long Island Sound and spoke with a marine biologist who told me about all the stuff she did to become what she was. She said she went to the University of Florida, and I wanted to go there so bad, but senior year came and I realized I just couldn't afford it.

Right now, I’m putting myself through Hudson Valley. I was supposed to go to the University of New Haven, but a lot of financial stuff started to happen. There’s no marine biology major at Hudson Valley, which is why I wanted to go to New Haven. If I’d gone to New Haven, I’d already be taking marine biology classes, but I’m taking bio and environmental science classes, which are close. I couldn’t go my first semester because I hadn’t been able to take out any loans. My mom has been supportive. She really wants me to do this. But she had bad credit, so she really couldn’t put me through college. She cried when I finally got to go to Hudson Valley for the second semester. She never got to graduate high school, so she really wants me to succeed.

I think a lot about what the future could be, because right now is not really good. My whole family is homeless right now. I guess you can’t focus on the bad. You have to just keep moving forward. One day, I’ll be able to tell my kids, ‘You can get through anything. I went through all this stuff, and look where I am now.’”