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Gazebo Gazette

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Marine and Estuarine Graduate Student Association (MEGSA) will participate in the upcoming Trent Lott Academy Career Day May 21 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where middle school students will hear about the benefits of a career path in coastal sciences.

The day will provide MEGSA an opportunity to share their research at USM along with an overview of the student organization. A display of live blue crabs will be brought in for students to view, and members of the organization will discuss marine science careers with attendees.

Hailee Nigro, vice president of MEGSA, is excited to share her passion for marine science with younger generations whose future careers could potentially involve helping care for and sustain coastal environments.

“It doesn’t take much to get younger students to fall in love with our world of marine sciences,” Nigro said. “We were once in their shoes and were inspired by similar Career Days that offered opportunities to speak with professionals in the field. Engaging with local students allows MEGSA the chance to strengthen our bonds with the community and to serve in guidance to those future scientists who will eventually join us in pursuit of marine research and resource preservation.”

MEGSA continues to engage in community involvement focused on environmental and quality of life issues on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and part of that effort is communicating with the next generation about caring for the coast and increasing blue economy jobs.

Micayla Cochran, graduate research assistant at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL), notes the array of jobs available for those interested in marine science.

“I think that career days like this are important for students to learn about possible opportunities that they may not have heard of before,” Cochran said. “There is such a wide range of jobs along the coast, going from fishery and resource management to research to ecotourism, and I hope that events like this inspire students to find something that they are passionate about.

“Talking to students at this age also encourages them to start thinking about where they may want to volunteer moving forward, and what experiences they want to get to help their future career. On a personal level, outreach events like this allow us to connect with members of the community and develop our own public speaking abilities.”

(Gabriela Shinshie contributed to the article)