OWUSS Rolex ScholarsMegan Cook, North American Rolex Scholar
Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society's new 2012-13 Rolex Scholars are Megan Cook, the North American Rolex Scholar, Yoland Bosiger, the Australasian Rolex Scholar, and Oscar Svensson, the European Rolex Scholar.
For more than 35 years, a diverse group of divers, marine scientists and underwater explorers known as the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society has been engaged in a unique mission: to identify and develop the next generation of dive leaders and underwater researchers.
Each year, the Scholarship Society offers three prestigious Rolex Scholarships to outstanding young people who show a demonstrated interest in underwater-related careers. The recipients work with international experts in scuba diving, conservation, underwater photography, engineering, maritime archaeology, and other related fields.
“Our goal is to foster the development of future leaders of the underwater environment,” says George Wozencraft, President of the Scholarship Society.
The North American Rolex Scholar is Megan Cook, 24, of Kailua, Hawaii. Megan was raised in Boise, Idaho, more than 500 miles from the nearest ocean. Growing up in an athletic, water-loving family, she developed a zest for adventure and respect and curiosity about the natural world. At age 16, Megan was selected as the top international ambassador of a young women’s leadership organization. Traveling nearly 100,000 miles worldwide, Megan gained confidence as a spokeswoman and presenter and broadened her goals for the scale of impacts she hopes to make in the world. This experience will also prove invaluable to her Scholarship year as she is already an old pro at napping during layovers on awkward airport benches.
Megan graduated Magna cum Laude in 2009 from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, a minor in Chemistry, and an option in Marine Biology. During college she edited The Catalyst, a journal promoting undergraduate research, and walked onto two Division-I sports teams: rowing and equestrian polo. Initially scuba certified in an Idaho freshwater reservoir, Megan eventually got certified in PADI Advanced, Rescue, Drysuit, AAUS and Divemaster in the temperate waters of the Pacific Northwest with the OSU Diving Program. Eager to explore more of the ocean, Megan became an international scholar on exchange to James Cook University in Australia. Upon her return, she enrolled with Sea Education Association, studying in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and later sailing a tall-ship research vessel from Tahiti to Hawaii. She worked in the reef fish ecology lab of Dr. Mark Hixon and spent a research season diving in the Bahamas to quantify the impacts of the Indo-Pacific lionfish invasion on native predators and communities. After earning her degree, Megan relocated to Hawaii to work as a freediver on NOAA’s Marine Debris Team throughout the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Her desire to make a positive contribution to the underwater world led her to work on the state’s aquatic invasive species team and as a trainer for the University of Hawaii Scientific Diving program and a community reporting network for coral disease and bleaching outbreaks.
The science and exploration of the ocean fascinate Megan, as does the communication of this knowledge. A scientific extrovert, Megan seeks opportunities to foster bridges between research, media, conservation, industry and exploration. She is especially interested in large-scale ocean issues such as marine debris and invasive species management because of the variety of stakeholders who can be involved in seeking solutions. Megan has received recognition in university-wide and regional symposia, for most outstanding presentation and best seminar for ecology and marine biology. She seeks to explore photography and video documentaries as communication tools during her scholarship year. She believes the ocean is anxious to tell her story, and public awareness is the first step to creating change. Megan hopes to work with diverse groups to further understand and better communicate the wonder, vitality, and drastic changes alive in today’s underwater world in accessible, innovative ways.
Megan is humbled and enlivened to be spending this year among this prestigious network of underwater leaders and looking forward to learning absolutely everything she can absorb.
The Australasian Rolex Scholar for 2012-13 is Yoland Bosiger, 24. from Mossman, Queensland, Australia. Yoland majored with two Bachelor of Science degrees in Marine Biology and Laws from James Cook University, Queensland. Yoland is deeply interested in environmental advocacy and law enforcement. She believes that in order to truly protect our underwater world, we need to develop enforceable laws and policies, both on a global and local scale, which promote sustainable use of our ocean's resources, so we can protect our oceans biodiversity for the long-term benefit of all.
“The underwater world means everything to me," Yoland says. "I have been immersed in it all my life, and frankly, I don’t know how I would survive without it.”
The Selection Panel was convinced that Yoland demonstrated that she possesses the necessary qualities to make a significant contribution to the underwater world in the future.
The European Rolex Scholar for 2012-13 is Oscar Svensson. Oscar, who is 24, was born on the west coast of Sweden. but was raised in the middle of the country, far from the sea the first years of his life. Fortunately, his family spent every summer at the coast, and when he was ten, they finally moved there and the sea was within walking distance. From the very start, Oscar loved water, and spent as much time as possible during the short Swedish summers snorkeling. This led to his interest in marine life from a very early age. At the age of thirteen, he took his first dive course at the local club and loved it.
For high school, he moved to the small town of Lysekil, which is a centre for marine biology in Sweden, and started his education in the marine sciences. He has taken courses in marine biology at the University of Gothenburg, but currently he is a last year undergraduate student in Biotechnology with the aim of combining these two paths. One of the things that led him to the field of biotechnology is his interest in the use of algae for production of bio fuels, an environmentally friendly energy source with great potential.
Oscar is currently a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and has worked as an instructor both in Sweden and on live-aboards in Thailand. While teaching, he tries to introduce people to the underwater world and the life there to further their awareness of the marine environment. With 650 dives under his belt, Oscar knows there is still a lot to learn and just recently completed a Technical Diving Basic Skills course, as a first step into technical diving.
Through the scholarship Oscar hopes to learn more about the exploration of the sea, and how we can move forward in a responsible way. “I am honoured to be selected as the 2012 European Rolex Scholar and look forward to experiencing the variety of the underwater world, knowing that I will learn much from the people I meet along the way,” Oscar said on being named the European Scholar.
Applicants for the Rolex Scholarships must be between the ages of 21 and 26, have high academic standing and achieved Rescue Diver or equivalent certification. The Society also offers experience-based summer internships in North America that are primarily directed at university students and recent graduates.
The Scholarship Society invites you to nominate students, provide support for scholars and interns or simply contribute to help support our organization’s educational mission.
To learn more about Rolex's Our World Underwater Scholarship Society program go to http://www.owuscholarship.org/scholarships