With my interests refined, I began searching for a place that would enable me to follow my dreams and provide me with the education that I needed to be successful: a place where I could initiate my wildlife apprenticeships. And that is precisely where Michigan State University (MSU) comes in. As soon as I saw the university’s vast and diverse programs in Wildlife Management and Conservation Biology, I immediately fell in love with the university and I knew that it was the place I needed to be. As a kid from Puerto Rico the transition into life on a Big Ten campus was certainly an adjustment. But I immediately found a community of like-minded students in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. The one challenge that I did find in my first year at MSU was exactly how I could best focus my energies on research. To be honest, there was hardly anything that I learned in my classes that did not interest me. But as time went on and I was exposed to more fields in conservation biology, I began to fall in love with relatively new field of spatial ecology and how it was in constant development. Knowing this, I searched for a place around campus that I could explore and learn more about my interests in the real life setting of scientific research. The end of this August (2016) will mark one year since I joined the RECaP lab in pursuit of becoming a spatial ecologist.
I turned my attention to getting a summer internship that would build my field skills and solidify the ecological concepts I had been learning in the classroom such as predator-prey relationships and human-wildlife interactions. These positions can be hard to come by. Thousands of undergraduates across the US actively compete for a handful of coveted technician internships that are offered, and only a select few get a spot. I applied to countless opportunities all around the United States, all of them being extraordinary opportunities to experience if I had the chance. As summer approached, I sent out more and more applications but had received no response. The pressure was on. A technician position was exactly what I needed to make me a more competitive applicant for future positions especially due to my interests in continuing my education through graduate school. Just when it seemed I would never land a position, everything fell into place and I was offered an internship that I could never refuse. Dr. Montgomery and Remington Moll offered me the opportunity to transition into doing research on Remington’s Urban Ecology Project and to work for him during the summer as a technician in the Cleveland Metroparks. The Metroparks are a one of a kind park system, consisting of over 23,000 acres of land divided among 18 different reservations. These reservations, which form a rough semi-circle around downtown Cleveland, are best known to native Clevelanders as the “Emerald Necklace.”