Alumna Kayla Harris ’23 Discovered Her Passion for Sea Turtles Thanks to Kelly/Strul Scholarship

Wednesday, Mar 20, 2024
Alumna Kayla Harris ’23 Discovered Her Passion for Sea Turtles Thanks to Kelly/Strul Scholarship

March 2024

Following her graduation in December 2023, Schmidt College of Science graduate Kayla Harris B.A. ’23, landed an impactful job as a sea turtle field technician for Ecological Associates, Inc., in Delray Beach. She found her passion for environmental science during her junior year at Florida Atlantic – but she might not have discovered it if not for the Kelly/Strul Emerging Scholars program.

“I chose to go to FAU exclusively because of the Kelly/Strul Emerging Scholars Program,” said Harris. “It was such a blessing to have been selected as a Kelly/Strul Scholar and to have had all the opportunities they provided us with. I am forever grateful and appreciative for my time in the program.”

Established in 2017 by then-Florida Atlantic President John Kelly and his wife Carolyn Kelly, together with Boca Raton philanthropists Aubrey and Sally Strul, the Kelly/Strul Emerging Scholars Program assists academically talented first-generation, low-income students to graduate debt-free from Florida Atlantic in four years or less.

“The program provided me with a group of peers to help keep me accountable, a vast amount of mentors and administrators to help me emotionally and to help me make choices throughout my college career, as well as gracious and generous donors to support me both financially and through mentorship,” explained Harris.

Now, Harris gets to work with sea turtles every day. As part of her job, she monitors nesting sea turtle activity in Delray Beach. Data from the work she performs is used by the state of Florida to understand sea turtle population levels, the volume of nests on our beaches, and the amount of sea turtle strandings each year.

“I’m grateful that my entire career path is focused on making a difference,” shared Harris. “Overall, the work we do as sea turtle biologists is vital to spread awareness regarding light pollution and to inform the public on things they can do as beachgoers to keep our beaches safe for nesting turtles.”

Looking ahead, Harris expressed her interest to transition her research from sea turtles to whales and their population changes. Although, she noted, that would require one big change: “I would have to move someplace much colder!”

Tags: science

Additional Information
The Charles E. Schmidt College of Science offers unparalleled experiential learning opportunities to prepare the next generation of scientists and problem solvers.
Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Rd, SE-43
Boca Raton, FL 33431
Fax: (561) 297-3292