Florida Southern Student Dives Into Internship

Jun 27, 2022

by Tori Walker
Assistant Director of Marketing

Molly Kennedy ’25 is used to spending time in the water as a member of Florida Southern’s swim team but this summer she was in unfamiliar waters. 

The Marine Biology major and rising sophomore spent two months in Sodwana Bay, South Africa interning with Sharklife Conservancy. Established in 2005, Sharklife addresses the exploitation of both shark populations and ocean fisheries in South African waters. 

Sharklife’s three aims are to develop a compassionate desire to conserve sharks by removing the stigma, reduce anthropogenic threats to over exploited marine species by increasing awareness and encouraging sustainable seafood choices, and evolving shark populations into sustainable living resources by promoting educational ocean experiences for all South Africans. 

“We educate the public about real shark behavior and not what people assume sharks are,” Molly said. 

During her internship, Molly assisted in monitoring shark and marine animal movements by maintaining Baited Remote Underwater Video cameras and cataloging footage obtained from the BRUVs. 

She was also able to achieve her advanced Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) certification as part of the internship process. 

This was a unique and once in a lifetime experience, as Sharklife operates within a marine protected area, known as a sanctuary. Those involved in Sharklife are the only people allowed access to the protected area of the ocean. 

“It’s an extremely unique opportunity that allows me to gain field and data collection experience,” Molly said. “I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to get their foot in the door with shark research.”

It didn’t hurt that Molly was surrounded by a stunning location and wonderful people to do her internship with.

Although Sodwana Bay is a small town, the people Molly met there were one of her favorite parts of the overall experience. 

“Upon landing in Durban, I met people from all over the world who were all conservation minded and extremely smart,” she said. “They have taught me that no matter where we come from, that everyone has something in common that can lead to a beautiful conversation and potentially a friendship.”

Molly not only got to put her passion for marine biology to work, but witnessed marine life in a way most will not have a chance to in their lifetime. 

While diving she observed sharks, rays and a pod of humpback whales traversing the bay. Molly was also able to visit iSimangaliso Wetland Park and spend time with land creatures such as rhinos, elephants, hippos, giraffes and zebras. 

FSC Inspired Internship

  Molly credits Florida Southern academic advisor Dr. Gabriel Langford for helping her identify and pursue the incredible opportunity. 

“Dr. Langford asked me to look into summer opportunities/internships that were related to my major,” she said. “Naturally I wanted to find something that would have me doing hands on work in the field!”

When she found Sharklife, Molly felt like she hit the jackpot. The engaged learning opportunity was imperative to her education and something she could never have experienced in a classroom. 

“It allows aspiring marine biologists, or whatever major you want to be, to see what a day in the life really looks, feels, and, in the case of shark research, smells like – and spoiler alert: it’s sardines,” Molly said.

At Florida Southern we encourage you to be an active participant in your education by being involved with internships throughout the college experience. 

This was Molly’s first internship, and she even made the decision to extend her time in Sodwana because she was not ready for it to be over.

“Experience oriented internships are the best way for a student to test the water when they’re considering a career path; and can help them avoid getting stuck in a job that they don’t actually enjoy down the line,” Molly said. “I cannot encourage college students enough to take advantage of experienced based internships; there’s truly nothing else like it!”
Let’s Go Mocs!