Nicole Grein: Radical Environmentalist, scuba Diver, and Savior of Sharks
Hey Stony Brook!
Since we’re midway through the first full month of classes this spring semester, I thought it was about time I feature another outstanding Sustainability Studies Program student as a part of my running “Student of the Month” blog feature.
For February, I am pleased to present to you a dedicated student who possesses a knack for writing, SCUBA diving, and shark saving…
Nicole, who was born in Asheville, North Carolina, lived in the southern US for most of her life, save for a few years in which she and her family resided in Germany. Tucked deep away in a verdant forest on a mountaintop, Nicole’s current home is an environmentalist’s paradise: gorgeous views, quiet, and endless opportunities for hiking and exploring nature.
Although Nicole spends much time in the woods when she’s in the South, she reports that, of all the places in the world, she has “never felt more at home [anywhere else] than…under water in the ocean.” Nicole began scuba diving while still in high school, and has “since decided to spend more time in the water than on land.”
When in 7th grade, Nicole and her family visited Belize. On the final day of the trip, after hours of swimming, fishing, and snorkeling, Nicole lingered in the water to intently watch a school of fish that was ravenously feeding on some of the family’s leftover fishing bait. Suddenly, the fish scooted away, and Nicole, confused, spun around to find out where and why the fish had fled…
Soon, she saw her answer: two enormous bull sharks! While most would be scared beyond consolation, Nicole thinks it was her “pure fascination [of the sharks] and [her] comfort in the water” that allowed her to stay calm while the two “curious” sharks investigated the area around her family’s boat. It was in that moment that Nicole realized her passion for sea animals, especially sharks…and marks the beginning of her role as an “Environmentalist.”
From then on, she dedicated herself to the never-ending task of researching all-things shark and/or marine. She is so grateful to have found the Sustainability Studies Program here at Stony Brook University, as the curriculum has “broadened [her] entire perspective on life,” beyond issues related to just the world’s oceans. As Nicole puts it, as Sustainability Studies Program student, she learned that ”each system in the environment depends on another, therefore saving one [part of the environment] but sacrificing another would ultimately change nothing.”
And Nicole is all about change. As an Environmental Humanities major and Marine Biology minor, this savior of sharks is working toward a law degree after receiving her undergraduate education, so that she can make changes and influence policies to protect her “beloved sea and its inhabitants.” And, as far as making change goes, Nicole suggests a “radical” approach:
“I think the key to change is awareness, the more everyone knows and understands then the more progress can be made. We need to become, as corny as it sounds, ‘one with nature.’ We cannot, [as humans,] cement ourselves in place on this pedestal of dominance we have sat on for so long; instead we must equalize ourselves with the environment. We are a species just as a snake and a sea cucumber are a species, we each have a purpose and ours as humans is not to destroy, but to live alongside of everything else. I may be a bit radical for some but the truth is that being radical is what has brought us to exploiting almost all of our resources on Earth. Why not try being radical in the opposite direction and saving our resources and environment?“
Well said, Nicole, well said.
With her energy and hung-go attitude, we have little doubt that Nicole Grein will go far in her sea-worthy endeavors! #supergreenstatus achieved.
Till next time…
peace. love. run.
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