VISTA Spotlight: Jessica Taatjes

IMG_0715Name: Jessica Taatjes

Host Site: COAST

Alma Mater: Humboldt State University

Major: Oceanography

Background: “I had the time of my life; I left school for a year, backpacked through Europe, stayed in hostels, met diverse friends across the world and finally got the chance to figure out things on my own.” This is how people usually say they came to “find themselves” in their adult life, but my story is much less appealing. That moment that I “found myself” was along my path through education. I attended college an unusually long amount of time dabbling in history, art, and science. Through many years at community college, I found I had a special talent as an artist I never knew existed, I was also interested in nutrition and then I came to find out I had an immense interest in marine science. Once I realized most of these were just hobbies, I wanted to hone in on a topic that would challenge me throughout my education and career, which was oceanography. I started volunteering as an assistant in marine science 1959716_10205610594838205_2472449479192125669_nclasses and organizations. Further, any chance I could get I would sacrifice my weekends or week nights to convince professors to let me come on their scientific research cruise to learn more about sampling techniques and get more
experience at sea.

Why I serve: I knew I wanted to be a VISTA the day I saw the advertisement, specifically because it would be on a side of marine science I was not familiar with. I thought why not continue volunteering and join AmeriCorps CSU STEM VISTA where I could discuss my passion for marine science with current students and faculty and gain meaningful work experience immediately after graduating.

Ah-ha moment: Throughout my VISTA year, I have been able to attend every event, volunteer with organizations in Monterey Bay and learn as much as I possibly can. Wait, I’m sure you are having the same Ah-ha moment as I am right now; I’m finding I want to bridge the gap between the scientific community and the public through outreach and education specifically in marine conservation.11071740_10205610495955733_845550728503843659_n

Future Goals/Plans: Since my Ah-ha moment came while reflecting and writing this, I still don’t have any future plans, but I’m sure I will have help in the last few months of VISTA term. My goal is to continue on to graduate school and figure out my future as I grow. I’m sure I will be one of those people who are near retiring that says, “when I grow up I’m going to be….”.


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