A few days ago I opened up my inbox to readers of this blog.
I gave you all a full day to submit any questions you had about myself, my career, my dreams, etc. I was flooded with so many thought-provoking questions and it was hard to narrow it down to just answering a few. Don't worry if you don't see yours here this time, I'll post more up in another month or so. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions...
"You seem very thoughtful about the messages you put on in your social media. Were you always like this? If not, why are you now?"
No, I was definitely not always so conscious about what I put on the internet. And on the flip side, once upon a time I was so preoccupied with what people thought of me that I lost being authentic to my true self. I was called out on it (not in a supportive way at all, however) and severed a few ties with people because of it... but I like to think everything has a reason and some people are in your life for a season. I like to believe these people were in my life to push me back onto a path that wasn't so curated and to stop obsessing about being perfect.
That experience really opened my eyes to how we all get so focused on highlight reels on social media. I have a damn good life yet felt inferior because I didn't have x, y, or z. How silly is that?! 2017 and 2018 was about cutting out the toxicity and realizing that I could use my platforms for good. In that realization, there is a responsibility to share your true path (the good and the bad) and also excite/enlighten others to the endless possibilities they have in front of them.
What do I mean by that? We do not live in this world alone. It disheartens me when I see influencers take that for granted because I'm like, 'You've been given this platform for power. What kind of change are you going to create while you're given this little fraction of time on our amazing planet?' Don't get me wrong: I fail at this too. I trip. I make mistakes. But I remind myself every day that I didn't get to where I am by myself. I had family, friends, and strangers all help me get here.
We're all human. We all have challenges, obstacles, illusions, and fears. We all just need to have a little bit more empathy to one another and cheer each other on when we can.
"What were you like back in high school?"
A band geek. No, really, I spent the majority of my time in high school marching band/concert band. When I wasn't doing that I was doing cross country running (for the first year of high school- band got too demanding) and was in some sort of leadership role in a lot of clubs.
I had friends in a lot of "cliques" which sometimes made it hard to hang out with everyone all at once because I was the common denominator. Proud of my social butterfly status, I was constantly on the go... not much has changed, haha.
"You may a really big effort on highlighting POC's - especially Latinx. You even made a worksheet on Latinas in STEM who study marine science. Why is that so important to you?"
I'm not trying to change the world with it; I'm trying to inspire the little girl or boy out there who doesn't feel like he or she belongs. "You can't be what you can't see" is a quote I strongly believe in and by highlighting diverse scientists and other talents, it's my way to remind those little girls and boys that they have a ton of everyday heroes they can to look up to. I try to use my platform to represent this community that feels like they haven't been heard. I want to generate love, positivity, and support - that's what I hope I'm remembered for.
"What are you most terrified of...?"
Allowing fear to prevent me from trying. Oh, and spiders.
"You've traveled a lot (what was it, like 20-something countries?) What is your favorite place in the world?"
Wherever my family is. Or Puerto Rico/Mexico.
"Why did you start TFUI? ConCiencia Azul?"
They both come from a want to see more diversity in the media about sharks and marine biologists. TFUI features different sharks you don't usually see on Shark Week or Shark Fest, as well as the people who work with sharks and their relatives (the skates, rays, and chimaeras). ConCiencia Azul was the idea of Andrew Lewin, who wanted a Speak Up For Blue-like podcast but in Spanish. He gives me full creativity rights and I even made the new art for the podcast! This was a way for marine biology to reach a broader audience-- a Spanish speaking one. I am so excited that we are in Season 2. Have you listened yet? We are on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
"How did you get interested in marine biology?"
I don't know! I was always drawn to the ocean-- when I was a baby, my dad would have to stay up with me watching The Little Mermaid until I fell back asleep. My first memories with the ocean are poking around the rocks to look for small hermit crabs to bring home and raise (spoiler alert: they all died). My parents have been very supportive of me wanting to become a marine biologist.
Thank you again for these fantastic questions!
Hi, I'm Melissa! I'm a girl obsessed with macaroni & cheese, puppies, and eco-friendly products. Welcome.
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