Congratulations "More Like Jimmy" Scholarship 2018 Awardees!
The More Like Jimmy Scholarship for Marine Biology/Environmental Studies presented awards ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 at the UOG Marine Lab prior to the start of the fanuchånan semester.
Jimmy Hall was an adventurous young man who spread his enthusiasm for life and love of sharks globally. Everyone who met him said, “I want to be more like Jimmy.”
An excerpt from William Naden's essays:
1. Describe your love of Elasmobranchs.
Beneath the surface in a steady current of Palau’s Ulong Channel, my dive buddy and I traverse a world dominated by sharks. Within feet of us, reef sharks methodically maneuver through the painted reef. Seized in captivation as these marvelous predators glided past us, I could not imagine myself within their world just a few years ago. These apex predators did not always thrill me. Raised as a fisherman, the appearance of a shark beneath my boat had always been a chilling sight. Society influenced me to believe that these terrible man-eating fish were set on reaping everything within the ocean, including me. Popular belief and negative media concerning sharks maintain a common misconception in much of our world’s population. My sympathy was drawn to sharks after hearing of the struggle they endure as a species because of our behavior. Learning of the vital role they play in our reef ecosystem opened my eyes to a world where this species is crucially needed, lest our oceans falter. I am pleased to share the ocean with one of evolution’s finest creations, reveling in the gravity of their existence. Sharks tend to be a rare sight on Guam reefs, but my enthusiasm to swim alongside them persists. Coming across a shark is an eventful chance that I look forward to when diving. Watching the sun glisten iridescently off the body of a white tip reef shark as she patrols the cracks of Bile Bay instills a sense of wonder over the life they lead outside my field of view. Swimming with these animals with a deep respect for their role upon our reef is something my friends and I can pass on to younger generations, creating a world that will protect elasmobranchs and their underwater ecosystem for future enthusiasts.
2. Describe how your interest in marine biology and/or the environment evolved.
My interest in marine and environmental sciences began when I was serving as a safety boat operator. There was a salvage operation of a grounded long-liner on the reef at Spanish Steps. Salvage crews had spread debris along the reef line for hundreds of yards. I was overcome by a compulsion to get in the water and remove miles of fishing line wrapped around fluorescent coral beneath my boat. I proceeded to comb the reef for wreckage without knowledge I was rescuing coral from entanglement. It was not until I learned that coral itself was a living animal that I began to see the importance of my actions.
As a young man, upon realizing the natural beauty of Earth is in peril, actively engaging environmental issues has become particularly necessary. When it became evident that educating and involving myself in a field capable of opposing environmental impacts on a local scale was crucial, I began to react. I enrolled in the University of Guam’s biology program to expand my knowledge in environmental sciences. In addition, I joined a non-profit organization, Micronesian Conservation Coalition, spreading environmental awareness through outreach. I met fellow enthusiasts sharing a passion for our ocean and spent many hours in the sea together. We surveyed the majestic Mobula alfredi and dove the splendid reef ecosystems of our island including Yap and Palau. While on land, we gave presentations at outreach events and in classrooms at high schools. We enthusiastically encourage young generations to learn to see what the natural world around them has to offer. Educating others while also educating myself about the sheer importance of Earth’s natural resources continuously drives me to understand my place on this planet as a responsible inhabitant who cares for both land and sea.
3. Describe your volunteer work to protect your island and make it a better place.
When I descended the Mamoan Channel below Merizo Pier last year, an experience I thought would be adventurous turned out to be astonishingly horrifying. Coral surrounding the community pier was draped in layers of abandoned fishing line, cans, bottles, and large debris. My sense of responsibility for my village’s local marine ecosystem and childhood playground prompted me to start the Merizo Pier Project in collaboration with Axe Murderer Tours and Merizo Mayor’s Office. Since 2017, divers and snorkelers from around the island gather annually to remove marine debris from the reef. Large amounts of debris have been arduously removed and disposed. Merizo’s reef has been given another chance to restore itself after decades of degradation, and we plan to continue our efforts for years to come. We hope that through this project, locals and tourists alike can see the impact of their trash pollution on our marine environment and aspire to become responsible caretakers of our island.
Until recently, however, I was not always environmentally minded. Hiking and diving struck me with an obligation to care for our island’s environment. Since my change in perspective, I continuously do my part as a guardian practicing responsibility, reciprocity, and respect toward our land and sea. When hiking, I tend to bring garbage bags for my friends and me to collect litter strewn along our outdoor trails. Along our beaches, I will find myself collecting and properly disposing of trash adjacent to our shore before it drifts out to sea. My free time is volunteered in conservation efforts focused on the restoration of our island’s degrading habitats. Sharing my ecological knowledge with all generations is fundamentally important in my dreams of making our island a better place.