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Press Releases

Monday, September 14, 2009

SU Students Recall Life-Changing Summers

By Candice Evans
Staff Writer
The Daily Times

Marshall Boyd Jordan Estes Robert Garner Jessica Johnson
Marshall Boyd Jordan Estes Robert Garner Jessica Johnson
SALISBURY -- While traveling throughout Israel this summer, Robert Garner discovered that Tel Aviv offers a prime surf break.

"The waves were not the measly 1-2 footers I expected, but rather thick swells that crested at 4-6 feet," said Garner, 22, who found a local surf shop, rented a board and walked to an inlet between two marinas. "The local surfers I found were supremely impressive, and after a day of great waves, terrible sunburn and a few tumbles on the rock-bottom break, I retired to a pavilion on the beach to celebrate the Fourth of July (with a few friends)."

An avid surfer on Lower Shore beaches, Garner described the experience as "a surprising treat" during his summer abroad.

Area college students have resumed their studies at Salisbury University after a three-month break. But some, like Garner, return with stories of unique, "life-changing" adventures.

"While most of my time was spent in churches such as The Holy Sepulcher or the Notre Dame Center, I was still able to enjoy those essential characteristics of the Jerusalem experience," said Garner, an SU senior who studied at the prestigious Rothberg International School at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "Visiting the Wailing Wall, walking the Via Dolorosa with Franciscan monks, feeling the dry summer sun midday and grabbing quick meals of mystery-meat kabobs from street vendors."

Working through the SU Center for International Education, Garner will transfer his credits earned in Israel toward his degree in history.

Meanwhile, SU junior Marshall Boyd had an internship at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History that gave him the chance to identify unknown specimens.

"I didn't expect to get as involved as I did," said Boyd, 20, who cataloged unidentified isopods discovered near Antarctica for the museum's Invertebrate Zoology Department.

The biology major also assisted the U.S. Antarctic Program by curating, cataloging and sorting specimens including seastars, sea cucumbers, isopods, pterobranchs, pycnogonids and various other invertebrates. Additionally, he attended seminars by acclaimed scientists who shared their research about snakes, fungi, flies and various other animals.

Boyd said the experience helped confirm his career aspirations to become a researcher.

"It made me more open to working with smaller specimens," said the Anne Arundel County resident.

SU senior Jordan Estes plans to go to graduate school based on her experience abroad. In Tanzania, Estes spent six weeks conducting research for her forthcoming honors thesis on AIDS/HIV education in other cultures. As part of her research, she spent time with the Maasai, the famous East African cattle herders.

"My mom thought it was hysterical that (Africa) was my first out-of-the-country experience," said Estes, 21, who majors in both anthropology and biology. "But I thought it was really great -- so much more than I was expecting."

Even though Estes describes herself as a "big homebody," the Howard County resident said her volunteer work within the Tanzanian community helped her adapt to the culture.

"It was really eye opening to see how different other cultures are, being able to experience that first hand," she said.

SU freshman Jessica Johnson, 18, may have remained in the United States over summer vacation, but she had to learn to survive in the wilderness.

An environmental issues major, Johnson spent six weeks working with the Student Conservation Corps in Alaska at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge following her initial involvement with the program in Washington during her senior year of high school.

"I loved it, but I was a little bit scared at first," said Johnson, who lived in a tent and traveled about an hour to get to the nearest grocery store. "I am a Girl Scout, so I have done some camping and my dad raised me to be a little bit outdoorsy. But I'm pretty much a city girl."

However, the Silver Spring, Md., resident did receive defense training in case she encountered a black bear or grizzly bear.

"If you see a black bear, you just play dead," Johnson said. "But if you see a grizzly bear, you need to make yourself appear big."

And she had a chance to put those new skills to good use. During a backpacking trip, her group ran into a grizzly on the trail.

"(The group) just spread out a little bit and we put our arms straight out," she said. "Then we yelled 'Hey bear!' and he looked up for a second and went away."

Reprinted courtesy of The Daily Times

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