Master of Zoology Graduation Celebration
It was with mixed emotions that we celebrated our graduation from the Master of Zoology program at Miami University. Even though my mom and I spent many many hours in the office reading, thinking and writing, what we were learning was so super interesting it seems the time just flew by.
Into the Field
We had the opportunity to travel to the Baja peninsula to live in the dessert at Rancho San Gregorio and swim in the Sea of Cortez. We visited elephants in Amboseli National Park in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya, dismantled snares with the African Conservation Center Game Scouts, learned to track lions, walked with baboons and lived with the Maasai in Olkiramatian.
Last summer we studied at the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, camped at Etosha National Park where we saw rhino, lions and cheetahs, elephants, zebra, and so many more wonderful wild animals. We got to participate in the annual game count by collecting data at a water hole over a 12 hour period too. We had the good fortune to visit the Namib desert on a private guided tour with Bruno from Turnstone Tours where we saw and learned more than we thought possible in one day! We rested a bit in Swakopmund before heading to Cape Town South Africa for more adventure.
There we were super lucky to catch the last boat out of Hermanus with the Southern Right Charters before the sea became too rough to navigate and were rewarded with amazing views of Southern Right Whales. My mom was thrilled to see these gentle giants. So many amazing experiences we will never forget.
Alas, we completed the program and it was time for graduation. So many wonderful new friends, so many great places, so much still yet to learn. But, that is the greatest part. Just because the program is completed, doesn’t mean that our learning journey is over, and that makes us super happy.
Last month, we gathered in Oxford, Ohio. It was great to see so many of the people that we met in the field. But this time everyone was wearing gowns with hoods and processing in to participate in the graduation ceremony.
The Power of One: One Face and One Voice
The next day we met again at the Cincinnati Zoo for the World Community Conference. My mom and I were conference featured speakers. We were honored to be invited to speak about our “The Power of One: One Face and One Voice” that was the theme of our master plan.
Great Friends and Great Memories
We were able to visit with our friends from our field studies that flew in from all over to celebrate graduation. Kim was our travel mate to Namibia and South Africa, and the keeper of the keys because my mom might get excited and lose track of them. Kim loves Penguins too and she got to see them in Cape Town with us. Becky had a Mary Poppins like bag of supplies including Instant heater pads that saved us on those super cold Namibian nights. Courtney is always smiling and is super nice too. And you wouldn’t think from that beautiful face she could imitate a turkey, but she can. We met Aulikki in Baja and again in Namibia and she was our water hole count partner. One of the highlights from the field. Meghann was one of our instructors in Baja, she is a Marine Biologist and very nice.
Katie and Cheryl were part of our unforgettable journey in Kenya. It was great to see both of them at graduation and at the Cincinnati Zoo. Katie does good work at the Cleveland Zoo and Cheryl is a wonderful teacher in Arizona.
With so many wonderful people, you can see why completing the program is bittersweet. But, now we can spend a bit more time with my dad, which is always awesome. And without him, we couldn’t have made it through the program. He showed great strength and fortitude listening for years about tigers, lions and cheetahs and even read through most of our papers, even though we are pretty sure he didn’t want to at times. My dad even took his vacation to stay home with me when my mom was in Namibia last summer so she wouldn’t worry so much about me. That was super sweet and was great for me too.
Thank you for studying with us!
But my mom will tell you that I was the inspiration behind her studies. Finding and adopting me was the luckiest day of my parents lives and to be honest, mine too. When I came into the habitat, my mom began to wonder more and more about cats, all cats big and small.
You have been with us on our journey too. You have listened, read and participated in activities here on our The Tiniest Tiger’s Conservation Cub Club that helped us with our studies. And now, I would like to shake your hand to thank you for your support, kind words and your love of all cats big and small. Thank you for helping us complete our Master of Zoology program and for continuing on our journey to learn more and help our cousins big and small.