Q & A with Priscilla Rivas

Why did you decide to pursue a Master of Marine Affairs?

I have always been drawn to the ocean, and so I started my undergraduate education as a Marine Biology major. I switched to Marine Affairs about halfway through, and loved all of the classes I got to take relating to policy. As graduation got closer, I realized there was so much more about the field I wanted to learn about, and began researching Marine Affairs graduate programs!

Why did you decide to come to UW’s SMEA for graduate school?

When researching Marine Affairs graduate programs online, SMEA really caught my eye. All of the professors have such interesting research, and I was intrigued by the titles of the courses they were teaching. After visiting, I was completely sold. All of the professors that I met with seemed so genuinely interested in student success, and the other students were so welcoming and friendly! It was just the type of school environment and course content I was looking for.

Are you doing a thesis or capstone project? If thesis, what are you writing your thesis about and why? If capstone, what is the project about?

I am doing a capstone project about Pacific Groundfish Quota Shares. It is organized through NOAA, which is a really great opportunity to have as a graduate student. Fisheries management is something I have developed stronger interest in since moving here, so the capstone is a great place to start diving into that interest further. I have not gone very deep into the project since it is my first year, but I can’t wait to get started!

What has been your favorite class at UW so far? Why?

My favorite class at UW so far was an elective Ryan Kelly taught in the fall called Marine Biodiversity: Science, Law, & Policy. It was a great class to take my first quarter here, since it really honed in on the interdisciplinary aspects of this program. The class was full of great discussions and relevant, useful assignments.

What do you like most about SMEA?

Getting to know the other students. My cohort is such a diverse group of people, and I have learned something from all of them both inside and outside of the classroom. It’s really great in class to have discussions with people all from different backgrounds!

What’s it like to live in Seattle? What do you do in your spare time?

Living in Seattle is a huge shift from my last 4 years at the University of Miami! It took awhile to get used to the cold once more (I grew up in upstate NY), but it was so nice to actually experience seasons again. Definitely one of the best parts about living here is all of the dogs you see walking around, particularly on those rare sunny days. In my spare time I like to hang out with my classmates, whether it is at happy hour, a football game, or a trip to Vancouver.

If you could design your ultimate job after graduating, what would it be and why?

It’s hard for me to pinpoint my dream job as a single position, since there are so many options out there. It seems like I change my mind every few months, because I keep hearing about new jobs from professors, guest lecturers, and other students that peak my interest. My most recent interests are pointing me towards government work. I have really enjoyed all of the policy and law classes that I’ve taken, and I’d love to apply that knowledge in the public sector!

What is your favorite form of marine life, and why?

Beluga whales! I love all of the different noises they make. Their nickname is the Canary of the Sea, and they definitely live up to it.