A minute with … Elise Waelder ’16

Page-10-Elise-Waelder1Elise Waelder, who is majoring in studio art with a minor in psychology and is captain of the Wheaton women’s volleyball team, spent part of the summer in Ostional, Costa Rica. She volunteered at a turtle conservation refuge through International Volunteer Headquarters. Watching out: “The beach in Ostional is one of the main beaches in the world where the Olive Ridley turtles go to lay their eggs. While I was there, I was assigned either an 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. shift or a 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. shift to do beach patrols to tag, count the eggs and measure the turtles laying their eggs. We would also keep an eye out for poachers and alert the authorities if we found any.” Taking care: “The reason the shifts were so late is because the turtles only come out to the beaches at night. Along with beach patrols, we did beach cleanups during the day to clear rocks and driftwood from the sand so the turtles had lots of room to lay eggs. We also did maintenance work around the station and beach area, like repainting markers on the beach and cleaning the station.” Finding a way: “The reason I was able to go on this trip was because of the $3,000 stipend Wheaton granted me. Without this money I would not have been able to afford to go and I probably would have never looked into volunteering abroad.” Gaining wisdom: “This experience has made me a better student-athlete because it forced me to learn to work with lots of different personality types and to be a real team player. Also, before I decided I wanted to go to Costa Rica, I thought about doing an internship or volunteering in the field of art, but I believe that people need to experience a variety of things outside of their comfort zone and break away from what they usually do. By doing this, people gain different perspectives and opinions on things and become more well rounded. After I graduate I will be surrounded by art for the rest of my life, so I decided this was a perfect opportunity to break away from that and experience something different.”

—Shawn Medeiros