“In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.” – Baba Dioum
Twelve years ago this quote was shared with BESS Alumni, Walcott Miller by his Magnet Marine Science programme coordinator, Ms. Marcia Musgrove and it still resonates with him today.
“She really helped foster this love [for the ocean] with her dedication to field based learning,” Walcott said. “This helped me get comfortable working with BREEF and studying at The Island School.”
While at C.V. Bethel Senior High School, Ms. Musgrove introduced Walcott to BREEF, The Island School and the Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholars (BESS) programme.
Walcott recalls how the programme pushed him out of his comfort zone and has taught him many lessons that he still uses today.
“One thing a lot of people don’t know about me is that I didn’t learn to swim until high school and didn’t become proficient until I went to The Island School,” Walcott said.
He shared how a teacher at The Island School took him under their wing and helped him become a strong swimmer.
“At the end, I was able to complete the four-mile open ocean swim,” Walcott said. “I felt really accomplished!”
Exciting yet challenging is how Walcott describes his BESS experience. “There were so many memorable moments but I think my most memorable moment was being able to meet so many people from different backgrounds as well as the things I learnt doing research and in classes,” he said.
Upon completing the BESS programme, Walcott spent ten years working at the Atlantis Aquarium. He credits his success in this field to the knowledge gained during his BESS experience.
“The BESS programme helped me immensely when I worked in the aquarium; from basic animal knowledge and species identification to interacting with people from different backgrounds and ideologies,” he said.
Walcott encourages current and future scholars to “embrace the opportunities that take you out of your comfort zone. That’s how you’ll grow and in the process, you may find a part of yourself that you didn’t know you had.”