Zale Parry 2014 Scholarship Winner Anne Benolkin
Anne Benolkin, An Environmental Sciences major born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, is the winner of the 2014 Zale Parry Scholarship, and the presentation of her award at the NOGI Gala in Las Vegas provided a most memorable highlight of the Gala evening! After Zale presented Anne Benolkin to the audience, this charming young woman spoke extemporaneously and passionately about not only her work, but her deep appreciation for receiving the Scholarship. She so captivated everyone with her poised, intelligent speech that when THREE notable NOGI Fellows took the stage afterward – unexpectedly – to present her with personal checks made directly to her, the crowd roared!
First up was Carol Rose, President of the Underwater Society of America, presenting an Underwater Society of America check for $500.00.This was followed by Ernie Brooks (Arts, 1975), who presented a personal check to Anne for $3,000.00…and after that, Bret Gilliam (S&E, 2012-2013) went to the podium to hand his personal check to Anne for $3,000.00. Together with the $3,000.00 that is the Zale Parry Scholarship prize, Anne Benolkin received a total of $9,500.00 this night, to help further her career!
Anne Benolkin became an AAUS scientific diver in 2011 and has since been a scientific diver with five universities, providing diving support for various research projects. She has worked on everything from seagrass ecosystem structure in Florida to community succession in kelp beds in Prince William Sound, Alaska. In 2012, Anne conducted diving-based research at Shannon Point Marine Lab in Washington, with a focus on restoring the endangered pinto abalone population. After graduating from University of Alaska Southeast with a BS in Biology and a minor in Communications, Anne became an intern with the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). REEF is a grass-roots organization that seeks to conserve marine ecosystems by educating, enlisting and enabling divers and other marine enthuasiasts to become active ocean stewards and citizen scientists.
Anne then became a PADI dive master, and at the time she won the Zale Parry Scholarship she was working part time as a dive master to fund her Master’s degree work at Alaska Pacific University, studying the behavior and body patterns of Octopus cyanea. She says her hope is that a quantitative approach toward this research would provide new insights into “this fascinating creature.”Once she graduates, Anne’s hope is to pursue a career that marries science and diving. She said she would like to become a research at a university or an aquarium.
THE ZALE PARRY SCHOLARSHIP, which debuted in 2006, is named after one of diving’s most celebrated women divers, Zale Parry (DS, 1973) the memorable lady-star of “Sea Hunt.” The Scholarship is awarded annually to an outstanding young man or woman diver who is enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate academic program, or who is engaged in accredited field work in undersea exploration, marine conservation, hyperbaric medical research or diving equipment technology. The goal of the Zale Parry Scholarship is to encourage and enable future generations of divers to carry on Zale Parry’s legacy. The director of the Zale Parry Scholarship is Ed Stetson (S&E, 2011), who works with Zale to review applications, which are sent in beginning in July/August every year.
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