Woodridge, Ill. (May 20, 2014) – For four decades, unlocking the mysteries of the oceans – by providing experience-based scholarships – has been the central mission of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society®. Since 1974, founding partner Rolex Watch U.S.A. has been the Society’s partner in education, with the Society annually selecting three Rolex Scholars – one each from North America, Europe and Australasia – to receive financial and logistical support to further their understanding of the career possibilities relating to researching the depths of the sea. Each young scholar, working closely with leaders in the marine-related fields, spends a year immersed in hands-on activity that furthers their underwater explorations. Specialists host diving-related experiences that expose the Rolex Scholars of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society® to the related areas of marine biology, oceanography, medicine, physiology, research, photography and business. The year-long experience leads to a better stewardship of our seas. The introductions of the 2014 Rolex Scholars coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society® and were made during a gala evening at the New York Yacht Club’s Manhattan club house. The organization boasts 88 scholars (to date), along with interns and volunteers from across the globe, all dedicated to promoting “educational activities associated with the underwater world.” The Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society’s Rolex Scholars for 2014:
2014 North American Rolex Scholar – Ana Sofía Guerra (Aventura, Fla.) is a 2013 graduate of Stanford University with a BS in Biology focused on ecology and evolution. While taking classes at Stanford’s marine lab, Hopkins Marine Station, she obtained her Advanced, Rescue and AAUS Scientific Diver Certifications while also exploring California’s kelp forests. Among other things, she has studied endangered shore birds, worked as a volunteer to eradicate a threat to the reef of the Palmyra Atoll, and has studied small scale fisheries. According to Guerra, the support of the Rolex Scholarship Program of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society® will allow her to explore new areas in marine science, and develop skills in communication and photography to eventually influence marine conservation practices.
2014 European Rolex Scholar – Of German heritage, Venezuelan-born Elena Salim Haubold (Munich, Germany) studied biology and was certified as a scuba diver at Simon Bolivar University. She discovered her passion for travel while studying animal physiology and social behavior as an exchange student in Granada, Spain, and she worked with many species of sharks at the Bimini Biological Field Station to research the effects of coastal development on the spatial ecology of juvenile Lemon Sharks. These experiences inspired her to pursue an MBA in Tourism from the European University in Munich. With her theoretical and practical knowledge, her focus is the ecotourism industry. Haubold says that the Rolex Scholarship Program of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society® will give her the appropriate platform from which to implement ideas that will guarantee long-term conservation of the marine ecosystem.
2014 Australasian Rolex Scholar – From a youth spent enjoying watersports with her family, Courtney Anne Rayes (Auckland, New Zealand) developed a passion for the marine environment. She completed a Diploma of marine studies at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic in Tauranga, work focused on marine, terrestrial and freshwater environments, and went on to qualify as a PADI open water instructor which gave her additional insight into the underwater world. After undertaking a Masters in biological science at the University of Waikato, she recently submitted her thesis: an interdisciplinary study of marine wood borers’ history and genetic diversity in New Zealand. “I feel extremely privileged to be a part of such an amazing opportunity,” said Rayes of the Rolex Scholarship Program of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society®. “I intend to experience and learn from a wide array of underwater projects and marine experts – a once in a lifetime opportunity. The exposure to numerous underwater fields will guide me in making significant contributions to the marine environment and allow me to focus my future path. Furthermore, the scholarship gives me the ability to travel to many places in the world, which would otherwise remain a dream.” Richard Somerset (Lancaster, U.K.), the 2002 European Rolex Scholar, explained what the 2014 scholars may expect from the coming year. “It utterly changed my direction in life. Meeting and working with extraordinary people in the diving industry gave me a deeper understanding of the issues that we face, and the way they can be addressed. More than this though, the scholarship gave me the confidence and self-belief to develop a career in the diving industry, and to grow into the person I am today – my job, beliefs and my family life have been forged by the experience of the Rolex Scholarship.” The Rolex Scholarship Program of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society® is open to applicants who are between the ages of 21 and 26 at the time of the 31 December application deadline. Each must have a valid citizenship for the relevant Rolex Scholarship (North America, Europe, and Australasia); not have earned a graduate degree by April 1st of the scholarship year; not yet chosen a clearly defined career path; be of high academic standing; fluent in English; and, be certified as a Rescue Diver or equivalent with a minimum of 25 dives logged in the past two years. The application is available online beginning 1 October for the following year.